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Vital Weekly 525

img  Tobias

Something that happens a lot is that musicians work under the banner of a bandname and then later on in their career work just by their own name, perhaps to mark a difference, or perhaps a change in approach, or the desire to be taken more seriously. Whatever the reason may be, Mirko Uhlig was formerly known as Aalfang Mit Pferdekopf, Suneaters and The Vévé Seashore, but now just goes by his own name. For him it marks the beginning of a new phase. What was already present in the music by Aalfang Mit Pferdekopf (or perhaps the others, but I don't know them) is the element of drone music, here again playing an important role. There is also the extended use of field recordings, especially bird calls, the slowed down piano and guitar sounds and the more obscured sounds of objects falling to the ground or a door squeaking. The work is recorded at a very low volume, which is a pity since one has to crank the volume all the way up to hear something and that seems unnecessary to me.  Mirko Uhlig plays a form of drone music that is highly refreshing, touched by influences of some of the work of Nurse With Wound, but with enough of it's own. It's drone related, has field recordings and processed instruments, all the common elements so to say, but he creates something that is beyond the ordinary. It is about time that he went out to produce his first real CD. (FdW)

Do any of these two artists need really an introduction? I don't think so. Both are big shots in the world of experimental music. Early 2003, shortly after the re-discovery of The Hafler Trio, the trio did a performance in Preston called 'How To Slice A Loaf Of Bread'. The performance was attended by Colin Potter, who lives and works in the same city. Afterwards it was suggested that the two should work together, but McKenzie being Iceland and Potter in Preston made a tete-a-tete not easy. Andrew McKenzie mailed Colin Potter the original source materials for the concert, which Potter happily reworked into 'A Pressed On Sandwich'. The original performance was also released (see Vital Weekly 404), so there is something to compare. Both The Hafler Trio and Colin Potter are masters of drone music, but there are some subtle differences. The Hafler Trio seem overall more monochrome in approach, with so it seems for the listener who doesn't know any better, whereas Potter seems to be using more sound effects to create the soundscapes that he does, maybe less organic and more electronic. As said, the differences are quite subtle here, and there is certainly no hierarchy, both are masters of the genre. Potter's mix is perhaps a bit more dense and obviously more concise (The Hafler Trio release spans three CDs), but it moves as gentle and dark as the original. Great collaboration. (FdW)


(CD by Unsounds)
In Brussels there is an archive called BNA-BBOT, which collects interviews with people from Brussels. They talk about the daily lives, work, hobbies. Th Argos festival (see also last week's release by Francisco Lopez) commissioned Yannis Kyriakides - a Greek composer living in The Netherlands, and also the man behind the Unsounds label (well, with others) - to compose a piece of music using the interviews from the archive. As the title already indicates, he cuts out the words from the interviews, and leaves the hesitations, breathing emotional reactions and environmental sounds. These edits are re-sampled 'and set in musical structures with wave-based electronic sounds, resonances, pulses and noises'. Erm. Hmm. It may sound a bit boring, but its certainly not, in fact it's a great CD, especially when some of the environmental noises are used, such as 'Drummer_0404', in which a Gambian drummer explains his technique and his drumming is used. But the extra elements that Kyriakides adds, such as sine waves, clicks and other electronic sounds, make the whole thing very vibrant. Of course it's hard, if not impossible, to follow the interviews, but that's not the point of this work anyway. This work falls in between the category of sound poetry and musique concrete and is ultimately a beauty to hear; not a single weak moment. Great stuff.

(CD by Kalligrammofon)
In the world of Vital Weekly we get new composers every week. People that we never heard of, but who are suddenly there and who produce some fine music. People like Viktor Sjöberg. He started to play music in 1995, with 'a rather naive idea if what hip hop could be', later to become 'real' hip hop, but these days his music is not like that at all. The new ingredients for his music are 'often unprocessed field recordings as well as his sampling of phonograph records'. Apparently the musical theme is built around the opening chords of a very famous popsong, but shamefully I admit I don't recognize it. The acoustic guitar, often used to create intimacy, plays the main role in the music of Sjöberg. It's a way of 'criticizing as well as acknowledging that myth'. Sjöberg's music can best be classified as highly melodic ambient glitch music. Vague music patterns, the tinkling of the guitar, the field recordings, which actually sounds more processed than not, and the typical sound processing, it all sounds familiar, it's a bit too much Stephan Mathieu, I guess. Perhaps the interest of Sjöberg lies in bringing out the guitar a little bit more than Mathieu would have done, but by and large it's a similar type of microsound/glitch popmusic. Excellently produced by the way. This is quite a nice CD throughout, and there are surely enough people who would dig this. Me too actually. (FdW)

AS11 - MONOTHEISM (CD by Antifrost)
Releases on the Greek Antifrost label usually don't have that much information, certainly not when it has to do with the music of AS11. 'Monotheism' is based on 'field recordings made at Mount Horeb, Sinai/Gebel Musa, Egypt'. That mountain is also known as the mountain of God, Gebel Musa means the mountain of Mozes. We could say that this is the one place where man met God, and we know there is just one - hence the title 'Monotheism', believer in one God. AS11 made these recordings and added 'additional voice effects' in his studio in Athens. The work opens with what sound like the wind, first solely and stale around the top of the mountain, but as the piece progresses, things get louder and louder. Like a forceful and evil God, angry at his followers. Erosion made audible, I thought. Also some of the sounds reminded me early Eric Lunde music, who also recorded on a top of mountain, and whose music had a similar erosive quality to it. This piece builds and builts, but suddenly after thirty seven minutes it's all over and it takes another minute for the sound to die out. Maybe there is some significance in these time frames, which eludes me (both conceptually and religiously), but it's a mighty powerful piece of heavily treated field recordings, that someone may put down as simple noise, but which I think just works great. (FdW)

If I'm correct Gyorgi Ligeti composed a symphony for, I believe, 100 tuning forks and Christiana Kubisch for several, and here is Warren Burt delivering a double CD with eight pieces for tuning forks. Burt studied in New York but moved to Australia in 1975 where he lectures and composes, mainly in the area of interactive technology and  microtonality. Many of his works dealt with voices, but here we have tuning forks. On one disc we find 'The Animation Of Lists' and on the other 'And The Archytan Transpositions'. Each of the pieces is around sixteen minutes long, and there is indeed a difference between both discs. The first work is more calm and relaxing, and in the second piece, there are more notes played and seems a bit more complex. I tried reading the technical notes by Burt himself in the booklet, but I got carried away by the music to such an extent that I ignored the notes altogether. This is highly minimal music with slow to no changes, just moving slowly forward. Peaceful, late night music, to be played with just a small light on, preferable at a low volume. Then it will unfold it's true beauty. Simply a gorgeous CD. (FdW)

CRASHING HAPPY (2CD compilation by Bek)
My former employer always said, when talking about differences in Windows and Apple computers, that there are computers whose harddisc works and those who are crashed. Of course a computer is terrible, but it can lead to something too. Stephan Mathieu's 'Kapotte Muziek by...' for instance is entirely based on a crashed harddisc that still produces sound, and on 'Crashing Happy' something similar is the case. Jørgen Larsson entered the computer room of Bek (in Bergen, Norway) and found the computer making 'some strange noises', a result of conflict with drivers, hardware and apps and it seemed like it played back all it's Ram as sound, just like HAL dying in 2001: A Space Odyssey. A recording was made and send to seven different composers with a request to do a remix. Of course Larsson is one. Six of them are Norwegians, and I must admit I never heard of them. From abroad comes the well-known Francisco Lopez. On this double CD, we get one disc with the full crash, which is of  course a pretty harsh affair, but there is some music coming through it, like drums. Nice, but perhaps not the thing to play on a daily basis. If I would have not heard the crashing, but just the remixes, than I would surely be amazed to know that the remixes stem from the sounds of crashing computer. Perhaps I would have thought about some serious heavy weight academic composers, with a strong love for some noisy material. You can hear sounds in there that are surely not part of the crash, such as the drums in Ulf Knudsen's piece. Or perhaps it is in there, but so distorted and Knudsen changed it back, who knows. There are all quite nice pieces, except maybe the Lopez piece. It much longer than the others, but it isn't engaging as the others. A long field of stretched out sounds building to a crescendo until going into full stop and then starts building again. It's ok, but I heard him do better. Also included are Asbjørn Blokkum Flø, Espen Sommer Eide and Thorolf Thuestad. (FdW)

(business card CDR by Twisted Knister)
[~HYPH~] - GRANULAT 15405 (business card CDR by Twisted Knister)
Micheal Hohendorf started a small label, literally small, when he got hold of an old cigarette vending machine, which is at the Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst in Bremen. Only there you can buy these releases. The are cigarette like boxes with a business card CDR in it. On the two that I got we find two German bands, Feine Trinkers Bei Pinkels Daheim and [~Hyph~]. 'Omafisch' by Feine Trinkers starts out in a ambient industrial way, but gradually fades over in a driving rhythm before collapsing. Nice piece, but it sounds a bit outdated. [~Hyph~], aka Nicolas Wiese presents a remix of an installation he did with Hans Stuetzer. Definitely more in micro-glitch areas with time stretched sounds and other processed sounds through methods of computer manipulation. It a surprising piece of music, vivid and lively. Perhaps too short. (FdW)
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