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Vital Weekly 513

img  Tobias

In the last few weeks we reviewed several CDs from the High Mayhem label. High Mayhem is a not-for-profit emerging arts facility, record label and multimedia production collective based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Carlos Santistevan is one of the driving forces behind this festival. The Uninvited Guests is his own musical project of live improvisation. Originally it started as a trio, but it developed into an improv ensemble with changing members. Like the title of this cd indicates it is a kind of document that contains 5 live recordings made between 2002 and 2005. Each piece has a different line up. But it didn't gave me the feeling of listening to five totally different groups. Not because Santistevan is at the center in all improvisations. Not at all. But maybe because Santistevan defined the underlying concept or the sort of interplay he wants to realize with his invited guests. In the first two out-takes Santistevan plays acoustic doublebass. In the other tracks he plays upright electric bass. In the first track Tom Brejcha takes the lead on trumpet that he changes halfway for a saxophone. Although it seems that drummer Al Faaet and Santistevan fulfill a minor role it is specially drummer Faaet who brings in a lot of action in this exercise. In the second piece we hear again Faaet on drums accompanied with Chris Jonas on sax and J.A.Deane doing live sampling. They share some nice cacaphonic moments. The other pieces include ultraviolet (turntables), Jeremy Bleich (electric bass), Milton Villarubbia (drums), Joshua Smith (sax, electronics, melodica), Yozo Suzuki (guitar) and Davy Wayne (drums). The last track that has Santistevan playing with Jonas, Faaet and Suzuki worked out the best for my ears. All musicians operate on the same level of intensity and the interact continuously. Here the improvisations are really cooking.
Improvisation can mean a lot. The music of the Unvited Guests surely is a kind of jazz-improvisation. In the last track Ornette Coleman is not far away, but this may be totally different in a next line up of Uninvited Guests. We'll see. (Dolf Mulder)

THIGHPAULSANDRA - CHAMBER MUSIC (CD by Lumberton Trading Company)
Last year I confessed not being the biggest fan of Coil, when I first reviewed music of Thighpaulsandra, so I am all to aware of his musical output with Coil, with Julian Cope (but still to my surprise the release by Anal, 'Zero Beats Per Minute') or his solo work. 'Double Vulgar 2' (see Vital Weekly 467) was a pretty long affair altogether, with an overload of guitar solos, too many drums and all that, and in that respect 'Chamber Music' is easier to grasp. Only four tracks, spanning just under fifty minutes. Thighpaulsandra plays the majority of instruments on each track, mainly all sorts of things with keys. Various other people play guitars, laptops, piano, violin and vocals. I must admit that even when I enjoyed this record better than the previous release, I still have to get used to the music of Thighpaulsandra. It's all a very crowded bunch, with stuff happening on many levels. On the side of instruments, but also computer treatments and in the form of post-production. The semi modern classical approach is no doubt a big influence on Thighpaulsandra, and that's the nicest thing here. Pieces move back and forth, sounds drop in and out, but there is always ear for the structure of the piece. Unlike 'Vulgar Music 2' things don't seem to be getting out of control or lost in too long space jams. 'A Blizzard Of Altars' is the best piece of this lot, with it's highly concentrated playing and of a great intensity and soundtrack like character. If the recent stuff is more of this, I am surely willing to hear more. (FdW)

TAMING POWER - THREE PIECES (10" by Early Morning Records)
A while ago, between Vital Weekly 365 and Vital Weekly 433 we reviewed a great of music by Taming Power, of self-released on his Early Morning Records label, in various formats, although the 10" was a popular one. Since then things have been quiet for this man from Norway. I am not sure why this long period of quietness happened, but let's make an assumption here: I think Askild Haugland invested in getting different equipment, maybe even a computer, even when it's not mentioned on the otherwise detailed cover. Apparently he uses a drilbu (whatever that is), singing bowl, voice, tape-recorders, cassette recorders, keys, electric guitar and field recordings, but the overall sound of these three pieces is less muddy than much of his older work. In all three pieces drone music plays the leading role. Big cascading waves of sound, in which all of the elements to produce sounds are used, but nothing as such can easily be recognized. But still all three pieces sound nicely produced (hence me thinking about the use of a computer in the final stages of mixing this record) and the sound is not at all muddy or blurry. After such a long pause, this is a great come-back record, re-defining his old music and ready to walk new paths. (FdW)
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So I wonder if anyone who will get this release, reads the titles, such as 'The Plain People', 'Jacob Amman', 'Menno Simons' or 'Dordrecht Confession Of 1632', will understand that this is a release about the Amish. The Amish live outside 'our' society and rely on nobody. Hence Chefkirk and Carl Kruger saw a connection, as the 'noise' community is also outside the standard of music society. A bit far fetched if you ask me. Chefkirk more than Kruger has earned some recognition in the world of noise, mainly due to his endless stream of releases, of which not all were great. But here in his collaboration with Carl Kruger, things work quite well. There is of course feedback, heavy type digitally distorted rhythms and vague rumbles of electro-acoustica, but throughout it's well enjoyable. There is variation among the lot, among the tracks and even inside the tracks. Perhaps one or two tracks are bit too long, but otherwise: thumbs up! And of course, nice cover, but that's hardly a surprise for this label: they are always nice! (FdW)

Quite some ago I reviewed 'If I Should Die Tomorrow' by one Ginger Leigh (see Vital Weekly 443) and the two releases are from before and after 'If I Should Die Tomorrow'. 'A True Life Story' is from 2003, currently sold out, but will be in print again soon. Both releases are again strong statements of bombastic music. Sampling the hell out of classical music, re-organizing them into rhythmic loops and attacking them with electronics of sometimes a rather piercing nature, this reminded me of the old In Slaughter Natives sound, but less the vocals. Sometimes he throws in a bit of eastern rhythms or quite moments. To compare the old and the new, I'd say that 'A True Life Story' is a bit more meaner and more aggressive than 'Sparrow Wings', which sounds throughout a bit more musical, with samples from other places than just classical music. Also 'Sparrow Wings' sounds bit less aggressive and a has bit more humor. Playing both of these releases in a row gives the listener not just an idea of the development of the composer Ginger Leigh, but it is also a highly varied bunch of musics, that from a single idea is worked out in many ways. I think it's about time that someone offered Ginger Leigh a real CD deal, and make his work more widely known. (FdW)

In a short time span already the third release by New York's Asher. No conceptual theme as on '...And Invariably The Blue' or exploring an instrument in a world of decay as on 'Graceful Degradation'. No such thing here. In a fine Lopezian tradition, Asher calls his three pieces 'Untitled', two with a date and one 'for f', but nothing else. Three lengthy pieces also which take the listener into the world of ambient glitch, the world of dark rumble and the world of silence. The volume needs to go up quite a bit, to hear what is going on. Utter mood music, which sounds nice, maybe a bit uniform throughout, maybe a bit long, but, in my case, excellent music to wake up by on a grey day. Sometimes things doesn't have to be cutting edge. Being nice is sometimes also good enough. (FdW)

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