Number 1439

Week 22

BO WIGET – EX COMMENTARIUS ORNITHOLOGICUS (CD by Edition Für Trenn- und Mischkunst) *
DIRK SERRIES – AT FUTURE DAWN (CD by Cloudchamber Recordings) *
KODIAN TRIO – BLACK BOX (CD by Raw Tonk Records) *
KIYOSHI MIZUTANI – CEMETARY (LP by Ferns Recordings) *
PREMONITIONS: UNDERGROUND CASSETTE NETWORK 1989​-​90 (cassette by Infinite Expanse) *
RODA – A SEA OF MIRROR CARPETS (cassette by Moonside Tapes) *
TANTO – /​ˈ​TE​̞​.​SE​̞​.​ɾ​A/ (cassette by Moonside Tapes) *
KBD – III (cassette by Eh? Records) *
BONG WATT – IF IT WORKS – IT’S OBSOLETE (cassette by Eh? Records) *


When I sometimes write that people like Bruno Duplant (or Celer or Machinefabriek) appear almost every week in Vital Weekly, I am doing this in a loving and joking way. I like their music, and there’s an abundance out there, so what’s not to enjoy? I say this fully, realising I’m not the one buying all this work. My ‘difficulty’ is finding different approaches to writing about their music. That’s not to say their work is the same all the time, even when the devil is in the details. Duplant’s work, so he claims, is intended to be narrative and fictional, in the same way he approaches his photography, often used as covers on his releases. Other keywords are ‘phantasmagorical’, ‘ancestral’ and ‘secret universe’, or ‘how to make the music a bit mysterious’. He uses organ, double bass, percussion, electronics and field recordings. In some way, I am unsure how (analogue treatment? digital? combination of both?), and he finds a minor different approach every time. In listening to the ghosts, as the translation of his new CD could read, I think Duplant chooses a more fragmented approach to his sounds. They appear like ghosts in the wind and mist, popping out of the shadows and disappearing simultaneously. It’s tough to recognise any of the instruments, not because they have been cut to short length, but because they have been rendered and processed in such a way that they don’t sound like a double bass or organ or percussion; they are residue’s of that, ghostly appearances, if you will. Significantly, when suddenly, voices drop in. As with many of his releases, there are two pieces, almost 23 minutes each (intended for a cassette release? I am guessing here), and both are similar approaches in composition and processing techniques. It’s an album in two parts rather than two pieces. In a way, it’s all very electronic music, ando dipping into the world of modern composition, but with that additional weirdness. It’s another excellent album! (FdW)
––– Address:


Quite recently, a friend asked me, “Since you are such a big fan of David Jackman, can you tell me the difference between his releases?” and my answer was “, No, I can’t”. There is not much difference between the various releases, and sometimes, when a CD has more than one piece, these sound very much alike. Siren Records once sent me a list noting the differences between particular albums. I told my friend I view Jackman’s work as pop art, which also shows in the covers of his releases. In recent years, these covers are four repetitions of the same name and title as an Andreas cross. Of course, I wonder if Jackman regards his work as pop art. A book about the man would be most welcome.
Die Stadt releases a bundle of his works, and these two new ones are the third and fourth one. Here, too, we encounter the same kind of repetition. In ‘A Cloud Of Light’, for which Jackman uses his Christian name. Here, he works with the limited sound palette from the recent years. A drone, Shruti-like, some low gong sound, the occasional bang on the piano, a church bell and some crows flying overhead. The drone is the continuous thing here; the others appear at irregular intervals. The whole work is slow and majestic. The music has a funeral aspect, like a black-and-white picture from an Edgar Allen Poe story. It is very similar to much of his recent work, and it is hard to figure out the difference(s). All of this fits my pop-art theory. I love this mystique and playing around with similar ideas and notions. I am sure this mystery will never be unravelled.
And then there is ‘Noughware’, as Organum Electronics, a sidestep of his more common Organum moniker. This is his eighth release, and it sees a significant change in approach. As before, electronics play a substantial part in this work and indeed can be regarded as ‘noise’, like the previous ones, but Jackman leans stronger on using drones. Loud, noisy ones but not as chaotic, nor changing very much, which is one of the significant differences. The one is he uses that bang on the piano, just heard in ‘A Cloud Of Light’ as part of the work, which is the first time, as far as I know, he allows other instruments to be part of what is Organum Electronics, which I believed to be purely electronics. I realise these are minor changes, and if you are a superficial listener or occasional fan, you may not hear this, and you might say ‘more of the same’; effectively, the same sort of thing one could say about ‘A Cloud Of Light’, even when that one is more of the same than ‘Noughware’. However, I am a dedicated fan, which either makes me the expert or the blind follower, accepting all that he gets handed. You decide. (FdW)
––– Address:

BO WIGET – EX COMMENTARIUS ORNITHOLOGICUS (CD by Edition Für Trenn- und Mischkunst)

Former VW reviewer DM reviewed Bo Wiget’s first release ‘Bukolisk Mimikri’ in Vital Weekly 1108, and he enjoyed what he heard. Sadly, DM no longer writes for VW (but there is something else of equally great value in the works, I happen to know), which means I, for instance, have to write about Wiget. He’s a Swiss player of the cello and singer, working with Iva Bittova, Hans Joachim Irmler and Margareth Kammerer to mention a few. He performs no less than sixteen songs in fifty minutes, some of which are instrumental. In some of these vocal pieces, the music has a curious mix of pop and folk, remaining on the intimate side, almost like chamber pop music. Some of this reminds me of Gastr Del Sol. Sometimes, the music takes on a more improvised turn, and he also remains quiet in these pieces. There is nothing obtrusive, loud or strange about his music, and that’s, of course, a good thing. It also means that his music sounds the same throughout, except for a bell sound addition to ‘Siebenspöttarens Lockrop’ or the noisier cello of ‘An die Dämmerungsgöttin’. As such, it became too much of the same time for me, and I wished for something to break through to the other side. The humour noted by DM before is undoubtedly also part of this, and is something of a rare thing with this kind of music. He performs a few ‘covers’ by Sun Ra (‘When There Is No Sun’, which is one of the highlights of this release), Georg Philipp Telemann and Fanny Hensel and as before, there is a bit of a yodel, of a more abstract/dadaistic nature. It’s pretty interesting altogether, even when not all of it is my cup of tea. (FdW)
––– Address:


The man behind Pet The Tiger is one David Samas, of whom I had not heard before, and for some of these pieces he receives help from various people, all creators of new instruments. These are Tom Nunn, Bart Hopkin, Gamelan Encinal, Peter Whitehead, Susan Rawcliffe, and Bryan Day. Pet The Tiger is also an ensemble; the information is ambiguous here. On Bandcamp, everything is labelled as “invented instruments”, except Susan Rawcliffe playing “original ceramic flutes” and Samas occasionally using his voice. The music is mainly played improvised, but there is, perhaps, some coherent playing. Many evolve around scratching, scraping and blowing on objects, strings, and surfaces. Yet, despite that, these pieces have quite an attractive amount of variation. Some pieces are drone-like, modern composition-like and some straightforward die-hard improvisation, occasionally erupting into noise (‘River Of Terror’; appropriate title there!). There is even a folk song in the guise of ‘Under the Gun’, with elements of free improv but a song of pop music qualities. It shows the tremendous variation in approaches, which works well for this kind of music. Even when not every track is a winner per se, it works very well. This is a long album with nearly 70 minutes, but so be it. Overall a most pleasant trip, of which only one thing is lacking: the visual component. I’d love to see these instruments! (FdW)
––– Address:


No less than five new releases by the Japanese Ftarri label. The one I was most curious about I saved until the last, and I started with a release by Tetuzi Akiyama on acoustic guitar, simply because I know his music for a long time; on 6 June 2021, he played Ftarri (also a shop and performance space) with Masahide Tokunaga on alto saxophone and Masatake Abe on electric bass—two lengthy pieces spanning 52 minutes of carefully constructed improvised music. Like many releases on this label, small sounds, silence, and sustaining frequencies play a primary role in this trio; I know it’s no longer the thing that Ftarri is famous for, as we’ll see and have seen, there is also room for other interests, but this release is undoubtedly something of a classic Ftarri approach. As such, it’s not a surprise release, and we need to look at the quality of the music, which is very high. This trio creates a balance between quiet and sound, between the fragile, small sounds and the longer sustaining ones, broken up sounds and those with some coherent approach. Each player freely floats between all of these marks, going back and forth, and they manage to sound, at times, like nothing you would think of saxophones, bass or guitar, but rather a more sinewave-like approach. I enjoyed this music as it was, without overthinking or analysing it.
The next release also has two lengthy pieces, somewhat shorter (48 minutes), and Eiko Yamada plays on both. The first is a solo piece in which she plays the soprano recorder and bass recorder, and the latter she also plays in the second piece, which also sees Fumi Endo playing the upright piano. This is a recording from the Ftarri space and another careful approach to music. The first piece is ‘Twisted’, and both flutes are played to significant effect, and I assume simultaneously. The recorder doesn’t sound like a recorder (a big plus in my book), and while flute-like, it’s also like bird calls and vocalisation. It’s pretty extreme music, and not because it’s quiet, but because of the use of the higher-pitched frequencies, especially as the piece evolves. Towards the end, there is a more low-end approach. ‘Knotted’ is the duo piece and here also two instruments, but quite contrasting ones. The lower sound of the piano versus the higher pitches of the recorder both played with significant constraints and lots of space between the notes. They use various intervals, and the piece never becomes too quiet, yet towards the end, there is an endless disappearance of sound, with the music vanishing slowly beyond the horizon.
‘Just Another Day’ by Leo Okagawa is a conceptual release, not a cover of an early Paul McCartney song. It’s Leo recording events from one day, just another, starting at 5:16 AM to 8:39 PM, sounds of a van waiting, birds, ‘an unmanned subway ticket gate’, the clean up of fallen leaves and such events of daily life. It’s a pity the cover says, ‘recorded June-August 2023’, which is not another day but highlights various days of recording. Isn’t it cheating? Okagawa chooses a fixed point and starts recording with no overdubs. It’s an exciting release and, for Ftarri, a surprising one, seeing they have very few that deal with field recordings and not in this way. It’s something one would expect from a label such as Gruenrekorder. It’s fine work, but for the experienced listener to field recordings, and I think I am one of them, not a big surprise. It’s a straightforward documentation of life in the city (and I assume it’s Tokyo). Okagawa made a great selection, that much is clear, and it depicts life in the big city. Beyond that, I am lost.
I listed the names of the three performers on the fourth disc (the first of two not recorded at Ftarri or with Japanese musicians), of which Alvear (guitar) and D’incise (vibraphone, electronics) appear on both pieces and Cyril Bondi (vibraphone) on one (and D’incise only plays electronics on this piece). They perform other compositions, ‘Sleepless Night’ by Clara de Asis and ‘Uno, Dos O Tres en Una Pieze para cuatro’ from Santiago Astraburuaga, of whom I had not heard before. No scores were provided, which is sad because I would love to see what a score or instructions for pieces like this look like. Both are reflective, quiet pieces, with the De Asis piece being more upfront, revolving around shortish attacks on the two instruments, in which the guitar uses a very light string, which seems to disappear in the vibraphone attack. The electronic parts remain a mystery. The Astraburuaga is twice as long and, at times, quieter in approach but also has quite a forceful ending. This piece has various sections. Here, the electronic part has a more significant role than the other piece, sampling the instruments on the spot, resulting in an almost straightforward rhythm at one point. The whole piece, with its various distinctive movements, has a modern classical feel to it, and at the same time, it also remains quite intimate, like it has been recorded in a living room. Altogether, very refined music.
The one release I was mostly looking forward to is by Sergio Merce. About a year ago, I heard his ‘Traslasierra (expanded landscape)’, an album for electronic wind instruments (EWI), virtual stringed and wind instruments controlled with the EWI, field recordings and synthesiser. It was a short album, but one that blew me away. Now, our man from Buenos Aires has a new album with four pieces: three for various types of saxophones and electronics and one for virtual instruments and electronics). One of the things I liked about the first one was the fact it did not sound like wind instruments, but rather very much like sine waves and a bit of field recordings, all played in a highly minimal way. This new one is along similar lines and no surprise anymore, but the execution is again excellent. Sounds move in and out slowly and majestically. Turn up the volume, and you notice Merce breathing and the space in which he recorded his instruments; it almost becomes sensible. The room/studio becomes an additional instrument, especially on the three pieces with the saxophones (microtonal tenor and soprano, respectively). He may use some amplification, bordering closely to feedback, adding to the whole sine wave experience. I am usually not a big fan of the saxophone but played and recorded like this; I am a big fan. Think a bit of Alvin Lucier or Phill Niblock, but then in small waves, rocking like a slow sea. It was another excellent release, and at 43 minutes also something of a better duration. Another great work. (FdW)
––– Address:


KSZ stands for Kimmig, Studer & Zimmerlin, the surnames of Harald Kimmig, Daniel Studer and Alfred Zimmerlin. Violin, violoncello and, double bass, a non-standard string trio and even more non-standard as all instruments are amplified and processed through effects (distortion, flanger and wah-wahpedal). The latter not all the time, by the way. The black forest (Schwarzwald in German), a mountainous region in the south-east of Germany along the French and Swiss border with lots of big trees, got its name from the Romans; they were afraid of the dark forest and thought there was evil lurking behind every tree. Kimmig is from Germany, and the other two members are Swiss. Well, the Romans were right: the music on this record is brooding, suspenseful and detailed. The titles are six entries in a black forest diary. It’s up to the listener to interpret the music and put words to the music. I’ll refrain from making a suggestion. The length of the six pieces varies between four and nine minutes. Entry two features a cello that sounds like an electric guitar and ends with a walking bass in the double bass. This release is more about moods and textures than simply creating three-part melodies with electrified instruments. It may take repeated listening rounds to see the whole picture, as these diary entries have a lot to discover. And it all sounds fantastic. (MDS)
––– Address:


Another non-standard trio: soprano saxophone, electric guitar and bass clarinet. All three of them have been mentioned in the past on these pages. Five pieces that sound like chamber music but with a twist: the electric guitar isn’t featured that much in chamber music, it’s the acoustic guitar that’s preferred. Here we get a different texture, not only because of the amplification but also by the subtle use of pedal effects. The music on this release reminds me a bit of Mark-Anthony Turnage, the British composer. He blends classical music with jazz and improvised music in a successful manner. That is to say, I’m a fan. The timbre of the bass clarinet blends very well with the more nasal sound of the soprano sax. Rupp sometimes uses a bow, Jimmy Page-style, to great use, for example, in Rejoice and Exult. It might be a bit much to listen to this in one go. The music deserves one’s full attention. Or when doing tedious chores that one can do mindlessly. Anyway, I want to say kudos to N/A (Not Applicable) to get this one heard. Check out that label for more adventurous music. I’ve got a soft spot for the earlier releases of Icarus. (MDS)
––– Address:

DIRK SERRIES – AT FUTURE DAWN (CD by Cloudchamber Recordings)
KODIAN TRIO – BLACK BOX (CD by Raw Tonk Records)

You can’t say Dirk Serries is a one-trick pony. Following many years as Vidna Obmana and a lot fewer years as Fear Falls Burning, these days, he plays under his name improvised music. But he willfully confuses his fans by using the same name to play the music that could be part of the Vidna Obmana/Fear Falls Burning catalogue, with differences. Suppose you only know his improvised music, for instance seeing the Kodian Trio in concert (we’ll get to that later), you might be surprised by his release ‘At Future Dawn’. The six pieces on this disc, recorded in real-time, see Serries playing electric guitar and effects, and it sounds very different, even when played in real-time. In his older projects, he played ambient music, using synthesisers, loops and later on guitar, usually with a maximum effect, especially in Fear Falls Burning. On this new disc, he likes his music to be sparse, with a few sounds, maybe a looper device, and some colouring with other devices. All of this works with microscopic sound. This is ambient music but on a more vulnerable level. The tension is there, but sometimes a bit buried and hushed. Listen closer and you spot many small details in the music, which makes the music no longer strictly microtonal. In all pieces, Serries takes his time to unfold what he wants to convey with his music, slowly building up, putting some mild distortion in places, and still doing a very atmospheric job. Music that is quite immersive, especially if you turn up the volume, but also when Serries decides to put some force behind his music. I don’t know why he no longer wishes to use his Fear Falls Burning moniker for this, as this could have morphed into something that Dirk Serris does on this CD.
If the name Dirk Serries only means something in traditional improvised music, you might likely hear his work with the Kodian Trio (or one of the many releases on Serries’ New Wave Of Jazz label). Here, too, he plays the electric guitar, along with Colin Webster on alto saxophone and Andrew Lisle on drums. As with many of these releases, the music was captured in concert on 24 March 2022 at the Black Box in Münster, Germany. With Webster’s saxophone as the central point, this music is more free jazz than free improvised, but I am sure this might only be a semantic discussion. In two pieces of 26 minutes each, they go on a full-on free assault on their instruments and the listener’s eardrums. Most of the time, there seems to be very little coherent playing or a lot of communication or interaction between the players. As I always stress, I am not an expert in this field, and instead a casual observer; for all I know, there might not be a lot, and it’s a matter of each playing whatever comes to mind, regardless of what the others are doing. The guitar is the most challenging instrument to ‘follow’ here, in Webster and Lisle’s volume-wise more substantial presence. Even without knowing too much about the history of free jazz/improvisation, I like the energy of this kind of music. The brutal assault is a liberation of energy for both the players and the listeners (the latter, at least, for me). This is not the kind of music I would want to hear all day like I couldn’t play harsh noise all day. Still, every once in a while, I very much enjoy this kind – and again, I am no expert, so I have no idea if in its kind this is something following a tradition or breaking with the tradition.
In a sort of middle ground between the Serries solo CD and the Kodian Trio is the music of his duo with Tomas Järmyr on drums and Serries on guitar, which goes by the name of The Void Of Expansion; I had not heard of them before. This, too, is easily labelled as improvised music, and yet it’s nothing like Serries displays on his New Wave Of Jazz releases. Over there, he’s more acoustic and, above all, without the use of effects. In this duo, one track per LP side, there are a lot of effects and whatever chaos could ensue, they control it very well. The guitar feeding into effects creates an altogether different set of sounds, way more atmospheric than in many of his recent work with others, and yet also wilder than on the solo CD I just heard. Somehow, one could link this kind of free music, with a heavy dose of treated guitar sounds, to the world in which the word ambient combines with doom, metal or such things without putting up this wall of doomy metal music. In that respect, the music is way more atmospheric and can be enjoyed as four pieces of ambient music meet improvised music. Järmyr’s playing is rather loose yet heavily controlled, playing lots of small drum parts in a steady roll of these. Everything goes at a majestic slow speed, with every aspect of the sound picture in full use. Every piece has quite a similar building; Serries starts on the guitar with a few sounds and then adds a few more, then some more effects and Järmyr comes in in a similar way on the drums, less the effects. It’s a curious mixture of interests here and not something I can easily link to something else, which I guess is good (or shows my ignorance, whatever you prefer there), but improvised ambient is not something I have heard a lot about. (FdW)
––– Address:
––– Address:
––– Address:


As this is a re-issue, I searched my archives to see if I had reviewed this before, but I don’t think I did, not in the paper version of Vital (1986-1995) or the weeklies. ‘Cemetary’ first came out in 1993 on a cassette by Ulcer, a Japanese label. I didn’t hear that one, but I downloaded it from blog-o-land later. I admit I downloaded so much music in those years that I may have only heard it once. All of this is unlike the previous re-issue, ‘Inferior’s Betrayal’ (see Vital Weekly 1362), on the same label (both original and re-issue); in that review, I mention it would be great if there were more re-issues and here is one. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Mizatuni was a guitarist in a group called Merzbow, and as such, I saw him perform during the first European tour. He has already produced solo works, and in his solo work, he doesn’t sound like Merzbow, but he arrives at something I’d like to call another take on electro-acoustic music or even musique concrète. In the opening piece, he uses Japanese and English voices, the latter about cutting, and he adds the sounds of sawing. Maybe a bit too coarse, but at the same it’s also very effective. Working with microphones and contact microphones, Mizutani’s music becomes action music, performance music, if you will. Last time, I mentioned Fluxus, and maybe that’s the case here. Mizutani layers his music on a multi-track and finds a dialogue among the various distinctive sounds he recorded. The second ‘Cemetary’ is a more percussive piece, which is most Merzbow-like of the entire record, without having the loop-based character as most of Merzbow’s music around 1988. There are also bird sounds, electronics and sounds that aren’t easy to place. The original ‘Cemetary’ release had three parts of the title track, but the LP has a five-minute bonus, ‘Bird’, which is the album’s noisiest moment. The guitar howls around in feedback and bird twitter piping up in the higher frequency range, which works very well. Not the sort of Merzbowian noise he toured with at the time, but more a noise-rock point of view. Great stuff. Dare I ask if there’s more? (FdW)
––– Address:


Back in Vital Weekly 1379, I reviewed my introduction to Tom Betteridge. More than on those two previous releases, he works with voice. He writes that he works with a microphone, reel-to-reel machine, compression and EQ, taping his voice at home (“while the baby sleeps”), but also voices from others (“my partner and daughter, my father-in-law, geese”) and much of the time he cuts these pieces relatively short. The 18 tracks span 25 minutes, 24 under 2 minutes and a lot less, and one almost 5 minutes. I am no expert on sound poetry, having only heard a fraction of what is out there. An apparent reference can be made to Henri Chopin, but Betteridge’s music seems more intimate and less wild on the feedback. He mentions Ami Yoshida and Junko, but I’d say (again, as far as I know about such things) it’s more along the lines of the first than the second. Lots of wordless vocalisations, that kind of thing. What the reel-to-reel does I am unsure of. There’s not a lot of processing, loops or delay going, say, perhaps, the kind of stuff one expects from such a machine. This ain’t easy music, that much I know, and not something I found easy to access. Perhaps because it’s pretty abstract and still with voices? Or it could be the briefness of the pieces. I am more impressed when he adds other sounds and instruments to the menu. Let’s wait and see what he comes up next with. (FdW)
––– Address:

PREMONITIONS: UNDERGROUND CASSETTE NETWORK 1989​-​90 (cassette by Infinite Expanse)

Here we have a re-issue of a compilation cassette, initially released in 1990 by Martin Franklin’s SoundImage Tapes label. A label only around for a short time, in 1990-1991, releasing four cassettes. One by label boss (and member of Tuu) Martin Franklin with Richard Clare, Peter Appleton and Richard Leake, and two compilations. I don’t know why the ‘Premonitions’ deserved a re-issue, as I remember all four being quite enjoyable. The two non-compilations are in ambient music, but the two compilations cast their nets further afield and rope in experimental music of a different nature. I may not have heard ‘Premonitions’ at the time of release, but some of these names are blasts from the past: Belt from Texas, of whom I once saw an excellent concert (in 1993!), Jack Jurwitz, The Vitamin B12, Hybryds (whose work got extensively re-issued in more recent years by the Zoharum labels), M. Nomized (of No Authorised fame) and Dino Oon and Konrad Kraft, also releasing more works later on. Some names, like Antonym, ring a vague bell and others I never heard or forgot, like The Happy Citizen, Marias Bad, The Time Flies, Felix Jay, Omega Ensemble, or Basie v. Webster. Noise as we know it these days is not part of this, nor power electronics. Electronics are the kind of sampling devices in vogue at that time, the Casio SK-series or those a bit better, without the quality they would have towards the end of that decade. All of that gives the music that charming in-between quality of better than the mid 1980s home recordings and not yet quite sophistcated as later developments made possible. Nevertheless this cassette is a great reminder of those creative times in which expression ideas and communicating them were more important than perfecting them or showing of. A time that sadly will never return – but this is the old man speaking. (FdW)
––– Address:

RODA – A SEA OF MIRROR CARPETS (cassette by Moonside Tapes)
TANTO – /​ˈ​TE​̞​.​SE​̞​.​ɾ​A/ (cassette by Moonside Tapes)

Moonside Tapes is one of the many exciting labels from the UK (like Minimal Research Recordings, ICR, Steep Gloss and Dark Passage, to name a few) and like the others they deal with a lot of atmospheric music. Roda should be written as RoDa, as it’s the duo of Ross Scott-Buccleuch and Daniel Vujanic. The first I know very well for his solo project Diurnal Burdens and one half of Liminal Haze and Vujanic had a solo release on Esc. Rec (Vital Weekly 1253), not reviewed by me, so I don’t know much about it. No instruments are mentioned anywhere; as usual, these things have little information on the cover. If the work of Scott-Buccleuch is anything to go by, and if he takes it here, the music here, too, sees the use of analogue tape-loops, Walkman and Dictaphone tapes, some sound effects and maybe an old synth. It’s all the ingredients for some rusty, dusty set of atmospheric pieces, and Roda delivers the goods. Dark and moody, vague loops, shimmering melodic sounds (which seem to be a Scott-Buccleuch trademark), mostly buried just below the surface, sometimes surfacing, effectively giving the music a less abstract edge. Roda has four pieces on this 40-minute cassette, and they take their time in letting these pieces breathe and develop. This is the kind of music for which I am a big sucker. It’s more than ‘just’ ambient or drone; it’s that graininess, the dirt, the lo-fi, the rough edges that I like very much in music, lifting the music towards a more dystopian nature, the sound of our times.
I can’t say the same of Tanto, who is, I believe, from Switzerland. I enjoyed his previous works (Vital Weekly 1299, 1364 and 1400), which saw him (?) operating from the same dystopian soundtrack field. His new work, the two parts of ‘ˈte̞.se̞.ɾa’, lacks that grainy aspect, the lo-fi approach. Maybe Tanto will write me how much I missed here, but to me these two long (two times 45 minutes) are entirely created within the realm of digital processing, and more specifically, time stretching. Lovely tools for that are readily available, and Tanto’s pieces are oke, mainly as a backdrop to whatever one is doing at the time. The music rises slowly, ascends slowly and does that three times per side, perhaps an indication of the slowness of the music. It’s unclear what the input is, and it could be anything from field recordings to acoustic instruments to pure electronics, but torn apart, so we no longer have a clue. As said, not bad, but does it go beyond the idea of exciting building blocks for something new? These two pieces do not convince me. I like to think there is more possible here than now. I realise this is a cassette release, free download, so maybe see it as a work in progress or a documentation of artistic development. (FdW)
––– Address:

KBD – III (cassette by Eh? Records)
BONG WATT – IF IT WORKS – IT’S OBSOLETE (cassette by Eh? Records)

There are three new releases on the Public Eyesore cassette division. Behind the acronym KBD, we find Michael Kimaid (drums and percussion), Gabriel Beam (modular synthesiser and live sampling) and Ryan Dohm (trumpet, sampler, and tapes). This is their third cassette for Eh? Records and the first one I hear. They recorded both sides in concert, the first at The Noisy Attic, Toledo, Ohio, on 27 December 2023 and the second at The Lightbox: Kalamazoo, Michigan, on 5 October 2023. From the information I understand, they play long-form improvisational sound pieces and are interested in electro-acoustic music. Both pieces (32 and 26 minutes) are continuous streams of sounds rather than shorter broken-up pieces of music. Not a collage of very different sounds but a deeper exploration of a limited group of sounds, going about from all perspectives and sometimes slowing down or speeding up, with specific sounds coming to the foreground. Still, essentially percussive rattle, beeps, bloop and all sorts of more minor sounds are being used and abused. At times, the music is very much part of the free jazz/free improvisation world, but with all the electronics used, also more drone and noise-like, and it only goes a little to one or the other. The music is not your typical free improvisation, not a blast of mindless noise or a deep drone. Think of a wilder version of AMM on a crossroad with Voice Crack or Kapotte Muziek; sometimes one, something the other, but KBD knows how to pull it off, so it becomes more like their own sound. At times a wild ride, but with carefully placed moments of relative unrest.
The second release is by Elka Bong, the duo of Walter Wright (Board Weevil, contact mic, drum snare, cymbal, metal fork, hand drum, sardine can) and Al Margolis (Roland MC 202 Microcomposer, Korg guitar synth, processed electronics, contact mic, bowed bbq skewer, toy drum, trombone mouthpiece, metal) and Mike Watt, who only (!) plays the bass guitar. One might know him from bands he co-founded, such as Minuteman, Dos and fIREHOSE. There is no recording date or environment mentioned anywhere, so it is very well a concert recording or from a studio (even a collaboration is an option). As with much of Margolis’ music (for me, he’s the best-known name here), this is straight into the improvisation corner, but as with much of his work, there is that electro-acoustic component, which is quite the distinguishing factor. This, too, is the case with Elka Bong’s music, basically doubling the action. There are many small sounds, flying about, stabs at a keyboard, abused toys, and the occasional percussive hit. Watt adds his bass improvisation; perhaps his instrument is the one constant recognisable one, no matter his approach. As it is sometimes buried within what the other two are doing, the bass becomes more of a subtle ghost, a resounding presence, a subtle bass rumble. The music is quite wild anyway, as this trio likes their energy levels up and is very dynamic, which requires quite your attention, especially if one wants to pay attention to all the details presented.
The last one is a duo from Colombia, perhaps not the country springing to mind for improvised music. Violeta García plays the cello, and Ricardo Arias takes the credit for the bass balloon kit; that certainly had my interest, as I don’t know many balloon players; Judy Dunaway springs to mind. The five pieces were recorded in a single day last year, and it’s an exciting collaboration. How does the balloon hold up as an instrument, part of improvised music? Surprisingly well. Arias rubs it with his fingers, giving a similar sound to some of the cello. Both use the dynamics of their respective instruments very well, going from very low to very high, from elegant, prolonged sounds to the nervous hecticness, which many people associate with free improvisation music. This is a bit of a strange release. The opening, ‘Argucias – Allegro’, is everything I expected this to be: the hectic, nervous sounds, the interaction, the high-pitched sounds. ‘Artimañas – Allegro ma non-tanto’ and ‘Ardides – Molto adagio – Andante’ (all pieces use these classical terms to indicate if pieces are lively, introspective or whatever) are extensions of the opening piece, but the final two pieces ‘Patrañas – Alla marcia, assai vivace’ and ‘Subterfugios – Allegro appassionato’ are tranquil and nothing much seems to happen. I don’t know what to make of this. An attractive diversification of what they have done so far? Maybe I heard enough ‘quiet’ music and don’t need more? Perhaps I also think the cello and the bass balloon concept is somewhat limited. The first side was indeed nice enough and also quantitatively enough. (FdW)
––– Address: