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Vital Weekly 516

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MICHAEL THIEKE & UNUNUNIUM - WHERE SHALL I FLY NOT TO BE SAD, MY DEAR? (CD by Charhizma)
A debut from one of Thieke's many projects. Thieke is a german improvisor who lives in Berlin and Rome. With this new cd Thieke brings together the best from both worlds. Unununium is a quartet of Derek Shirley on bass, Eric Schaefer on drums, Luca Venitucci on accordion and prepared piano, plus Michael Thieke on alto clarinet, alto saxophone and zither. They play jazz in a non-jazz manner. Meaning no swing? In a way surely yes, but it depends how you look at it. They play in a 'less is more'- style and succeed in being very effective that way. The music is full of humor, pleasantly (un)pretentious and poetic, which make this a very sympathetic quartet. The playing is fresh and pure. Some pieces are built upon a very straight rhythm, and because of the odd instrumentation they remind me of some of Steve Beresford's projects like 49 Americans and The Alterations. Just listen to 'Fünf Treppen' or 'Der Idiot'. The prepared piano and little percussion sound as children toy-instruments. 'Nach aussen gewölbte Mönche' - what a tittle! - has Unununium at their most energetic and hectic level. The music jumps from one corner to another. Here the music really takes of. But this quartet has also another side. Pieces like 'Portnoy' and 'Mmm' are spheric improvisations that are investigations in soundcollage and texture. Also most of the other pieces move slowly forward built on little motives that are repeated over and over, but not literally. In the case of 'Ein Käfer werden' the music is to introspective, and fails to catch attention from beginning to the end. Considered as a whole the music on this cd is clearly structured and transparent. The players make up a good team and share the same musical vision and way of playing. They have everything under control. Schaefer is a great drummer, known from other projects with Thieke as well (Nickendes Perlgras). Luca Venitucci on accordion and prepared piano was the greatest surprise for me. But the best thing you can do is to surprise yourself with this cd. It is worth it. (Dolf Mulder)
Address: http://www.charhizma.com/


MARTIN TETREAULT & YOSHIHIDE OTOMO - 4.HMMM (Cd by Ambiances Magnétiques)
Another cd from this notorious duo. If I'm not mistaken, their first collaboration dates from 1999 - the cd '21 situations;. In 2003 they toured together through Europe. At the end of this tour they recorded in Montréal "Studio-Analogique-Numérique", released as three mini-cds. The tour itself is documented in a series of 4 cds (!) of which now the fourth cd is released. This collaboration must have been a very important experience for both gentlemen, as it is so extensively made available. If you know this duo from one of these earlier releases they do not need further introduction. Once again we find them behind their turntables from which they extract the most extreme noises. This 'music' is far beyond all categories and standards that normally define music: its noise concrète. Very physical. It fascinates because of the radical approach and offers the opportunity of experiencing the beauty of noises and sounds. Well, if you are in the right disposition of course. (Dolf Mulder)
Address: http://www.actuellecd.com/


VLASTISLAV MATOUSEK - SHAPES OF SILENCE (CD by Nextera)
With their recent releases, Nextera moves towards a form of ambient music that is very closely linked to the world of New Age music. If you know that 'Shapes Of Silence' is an electro-acoustic composition for Tibetan bowls, pipes, percussion, sound objects and the singing fountain of the Royal Summer Palace of Queen Anne in Prague, then you may have an idea, what I am talking about. But just as much with say Oophoi, Nextera gets away with it, since Vtastslav Matousek crafts a nice piece together. Matousek has a Ph D in music, and is especially busy with ethnological instruments, Czech folk music but (luckily) also in the alternative rock areas. 'Shapes Of Silence' has five pieces over relatively dark drones (I assume out of processing the sound of Tibetan bowls) and field recordings of water splashing around which were really nice, but the pieces that were lighter with shakuhachi playing made with raise an eyebrow and thinking that the new age is never far away. Occasionally there is a higher pitched sound however that rescues the music from falling over in the pit-holes of new age (which you must have guessed is something I don't like). This saves this release and still keeps it in the right musical areas, save for an occasional glitch. A nice ambient release for those who know what to expect. Although I normally don't do this, I must admit that the art work of the recent Nextera releases is not really that nice and looks a quite cheap. With limited means one could make something much nicer, I think. (FdW)
Address: http://www.nextera.cz


FLIM - POLA MUSIC (CDR by Two Sheets Portrait)
As I listen to Flim's 'Pola Music' I look outside. Last night it snowed, which in The Netherlands is a rare thing for March. It means that during the day much of it melts away and perhaps it will start snowing again tonight. As said, inside with the heather on and the CD player chewing Flim's 'Pola Music', and the music sounds very much like the weather conditions outside. Field recordings, sparse piano tones, something that could be a harmonium of some kind. Small pieces of music which Enrico Wuttke recorded onto minidisc over the course of years. Sketches, ideas, melting away like snow. In the final piece 'Fnäh', which lasts thirty minutes (!, whereas the others lasts about 1 or 2 minutes), everything melts together. It's the only multitrack piece on this CD, but it carries throughout the same sparseness in sound that is elegantly present in the short pieces on this CD. Warm, intimate music that fills the atmosphere around in a beautiful way. It will be cold outside for a while, but the snow will melt away. It will be warm inside, but it will stay warm for a while. (FdW)
Address: http://www.flimmusic.com


DARREN TATE - THE ELVES ARE COMING (CDR by Twenty Hertz)
PAUL BRADLEY & CRIA CUERVOS - MORAINES (CDR by Twenty Hertz)
These two releases on Twenty Hertz both deal with a collaboration, even when one just says Darren Tate on the cover. His release, 'The Elves Are Coming' consists of him playing guitar and keyboard whilst in the background there is a field recording by Daisuke Suzuki. It was mixed in two days in early january of this year and, although it is never stated, it's probably recorded then also, as the whole thing has a very direct, almost 'live' feel to it. The guitar sometimes just 'hums' and seems not to be doing much, while we hear sounds of someone shuffling about in what seems to me a wooden cabin of some sort. It's the sort of ambient drone music that is not necessarily demanding much, more like a sort of coincidental colliding of sound particles. That may sound perhaps a bit too easy, but it's this apparent randomness that is quite nice.
Marked as a 'real' collaboration is Twenty Hertz boss Paul Bradley and Eugenio Maggi, aka Cria Cuervos from Italy. Their collaboration is a much tighter work, more strictly composed in the world of ambient drone music. Deep bass hum starts the piece, and then little by little they add their own blend of field recordings, working slowly their way into a mighty crescendo and then again as slowly again towards the end, taking the sound down. Probably it's because of the Cria Cuervos influence, but it sounds a tad more ambient industrial here and there than some of Paul Bradley's other work. That is nice, since it breaks away a bit from the more 'traditional' drone works on Twenty Hertz, even when as such the music doesn't open a new path in that particular field of music. But all in all it's a good solid work from these two. (FdW)
Address: http://www.twentyhertz.co.uk


MASAYA SASAKI - PICNIC PLAN (MP3 by Minus N)
Usually there is some information at the website of Minus N with their releases, but not so in Masaya Sasaki's case. Just a few words, more like poetic statements and that's it. There is however another difference too. Up until now most of the Minus N releases worked around some form of rhythm, either dub, techno or some such, but Sasaki plays a different tune. The first two tracks are sine wave like pieces, moving slowly around in circles. A bit like Alvin Lucier would do. Great pieces actually. Then comes the title piece, which also a sine wave but one that is hovering somewhere at the lower end of the spectrum, but there is a bunch of rhythmic particles floating around it. Sampled sine waves chopped up in to small bits. The final piece is 'Motion 8', and that sort of break the release. A much clearer keyboard piece with a straight 4/4 rhythm. It perhaps works nice as a counter piece, but for me it breaks the austerity of the first three pieces and as far as I'm concerned it could have been not on there. Otherwise thumbs up! (FdW)
Address: http://www.minusn.com


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