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Vital Weekly 526

img  Tobias

With an unerring sense of space, in terms of texture, frequency and rhythm, Pan.American concoct wonderfully simple modes of echo, hum and melody that act as the basis for slowly unfurling tracks. Of all their records, 'For Waiting, For Chasing' capitalizes perhaps most effectively on this methodology create elegant sonic washes, with fragmented pops of effervescent noise emerging intermittently - suggesting to the listener exactly where their focus in the piece should be. And where does this locus of attention lie? Well, for the most part this record suggests a floating focus - a reinforcement of the joy of choice when considering where to place your ears and for how long. 'Are You Ready' for instance maintains coexisting layers of traditional (perhaps almost clichéd) ambience, clicking/popping rhythms, pulsing gentle electronics and intermingling layer of distorted atmospheres - the end result is a chance to move freely and concentrate on different aspects of the record's production depending on environment and mood of the listener. This procedure and offering is repeated at length through other pieces such as 'From Here', with tracks like 'Amulls' acting as counterpoint of sorts, assuming a more monotone stasis.

(CD by seedyR & Invisible Agent)
Music from Edwin James, aka Corrugated Tunnel, has been reviewed before (Vital Weekly 449 and 453), but in the meantime he worked on his full length debut album, 'We Are Electronix'. James, from Ireland, plays, according to techno legend Abe Duque, the 'new old school' in techno music. He does that since the early 90s. Acid and techno are the main ingredients of his music, but on his debut there is also space for some more ambient house oriented passages. His previous releases were perhaps a bit too middle of the road for me, but I must say that 'We Are Electronix' is quite a nice release. It has all the right elements of a good techno piece, there are spacious synthesizers, retro elements of electro like vocoders. Perhaps it's the pleasant sunny day that makes life a bit easier and an album like this really fits the day. Sunny music. (FdW)

It's almost impossible to understand, but this work was recorded in 1997, but it took nine years to find a label. Origami Replika, a trio of Lasse Marhaug, Tore H Boe and Mads Staff Jensen, recorded in 1997 two works of them remixing other people's works. The first one, 'Kapotte Muziek In The Hands Of Origami Replika' was released shortly after it was finished, but for some reason 'Merzbow  In The Hands Of Origami Replika' took so much more time. The cover lists all of the Merzbow works used, ranging from cassettes to vinyl and CDs and includes 'destroying nine Merzbow cassette cases'. Origami Replika uses turntables, minidiscs, microphones and sound effects to create a sonic density that is not unlike the good master himself, but also more quieter moments of noise assault, which of course is a rarer feature in the vast amount of Merzbow works. However, the majority of the pieces are way out sonic attacks, that easily survived time (remember that in 1997 such things as computers where not commonly used). This reflects the older Merzbow, analogue phase, as well as an original attack on their material, by surely like minded noise artists. A great work, not to be missed by both fans of Merzbow and Marhaug. (FdW)


In the releases of the and/Oar label field recordings are always important, but the label doesn't exclusively work with that. They have two new releases out, one of them being a pure field recording work and one with electronically processed field recordings. The latter is the responsibility of Andrew Deutsch, a composer who has been using max/msp extensively over the last decade. This new work contains of the sound of passing ocean waves through various digital processing devices. 'The most articulate of these processors was a tone generator able to isolate and respond to specific frequencies present in the ocean waves', it reads on the cover. It also that the concept behind 'The Sun' was to make 'static music or a kind of music that just shimmered in place'. It surely does that, just that. The sound is vaguely like an organ that washes ashore, just like an ocean wave would do. It is working without many dramatic developments (it has small and subtle changes, rather than developments, so I guess it's not that static), but rather a sound environment that works rather nicely when played softly and perhaps put on repeat for a day or two. There are five variations on this CD however, which might make a repeated playing somewhat more difficult: the flow will be interrupted. The double CD by Kiyoshi Mizutani should be listened with headphone or in winter time with all windows closed. Recordings were made in the Tanzawa Mountains, where-ever that might be, or why they are special, I don't know. Probably it is some kind of holy place, since we hear some tracks of people chanting. The majority of the pieces however deal with bird sounds, water falls, rain but also a power-plant and a substation. All recorded with no sound processing whatever, meaning all the recordings are presented in the purest form. Some of the pieces mingle very nicely with your environment, certainly when on hot spring day windows are open. Is that my bird or your bird, Mizutani? A beautiful sound picture these two CDs, excellent recordings. A pity that the information side is a bit sparse, but that would be my only complaint. The pictures are great! (FdW)

(CD by 12K)
From the outside it may seem that Taylor Deupree is a busy bee, music-wise, but 'Northern' is his first solo release in two years. Deupree is always busy with his own 12K label (and off shoots Line and Happy), playing live concerts and working with others, so perhaps time is a bit sparse to do his own music. Recently Deupree moved from urban Brooklyn to upstate New York, and the change of atmosphere is a fact. Well, or not? Deupree's music is, at least for a longer period of time, made of tranquil and silent elements. Textural music, made with sounds from the environment but also electric piano, melodica and guitar, but then highly processed. It is what he has been doing since quite some time now, wether he was in Brooklyn or Pound Ridge, where he is now. But it seems that he takes even more time to tell his story. Only six tracks are present here, mostly lasting around nine to ten minutes. Deupree wants the listener to sit back and take it all in, but in a very slow pace. Things develop, that's for sure, but everything seems to be taking it's time, gradually everything becomes bigger and bigger, with subtle sounds added, longer sustains. It's warm music that may perhaps not fit springtime coming (the cover depicts a winter world), but it's certainly one of the best Deupree works so far. The calmest and most slow one. (FdW)

Another label that has been quiet for some time is the Cycling 74 label, releasing works that deal with music software developed by them, usually through Max/msp. The software at work here by Gregory Taylor is Radial. In the liner notes Taylor admits that this work is of pure plagiarism. I'd rather say he's creatively remixing a fine body of work: the twenty-four 3" CDs released by Fällt under the banner of 'Invalid Object' (see Vital Weekly 291). The sounds there, twenty-four times fifteen one minute pieces, are the basis of 'Voiceband Jilt', which Taylor played live at Utrecht's Impakt festival in 2002. The original didn't stick right in mind after all these years (not as much as it did with Taylor I guess, who compares it with Eno's 'Obscure Records' series), so it's a bit hard for me to comment on the level of 'stealing' vs 'remixing', but the nine tracks sound like an aural: from the relatively quiet beginnings it sets out on a travel through tons and tons of sound processing's  - or so it seems - all neatly fitting in the world of microsound and glitch before it lands in similar quiet, yet slightly more disturbed grounds about forty some minutes later. It's a fine journey throughout, but perhaps it's also the road taken by others too, traveling similar fields. As such it's not the surprise journey, but rather a trip one has taken before and one that one liked before. (FdW)

(CD by Potlatch)
Three players of wind instruments. In fact: three renowned players. John Butcher on tenor & soprano saxophones, Xavier Charles on clarinet and Axel Dörner on trumpet. What is important for acoustic players, is the room they play, as that can make a distinct difference. These trio were recorded in the large hall of L'Athanor cultural centre and in a studio. Especially in the big hall various microphones were used to capture the sound of the environment and the way the instrument travels. The resultant recordings were later on mixed by editing them down to this full hour, 'The Contest Of Pleasure'. As you can imagine from these big shots from the world of improvised music, this is a true pleasure to hear. Sometimes the playing is regular, with the large reverberations adding lots of space, but most of the time the playing is less conventional and the three use the  instruments more to generate whatever sound, as long as it's not anything close to normal playing. Some of the pieces, or rather passages, are quite intense such as the sustaining sounds in 'Les Oignons'. The full hour is perhaps quite a sit through, but I found the music less demanding than some other works in the world of improvisation, and found this much easier to digest. (FdW)

By my own quick count, I think it was almost three years ago that we last reviewed something by the Belgium Erewhon label. Their small catalogue focusses on music that can be best described as a cross over between musique concrete, drones and field recordings. These two new releases are no different, but both have a strong conceptual edge.
Eric Cordier uses a 1960s 78 RPM record as the sole source for his entire CD. Not just a 78 RPM, but the first record that had the Breton language carved into it. Much of the original information is erased through time, but it provides some excellent source material for Cordier. He uses 'a sophisticated delay pedal: GSP 2101 and a sound processor TC (G Force) and handmade devices'. He plays six lengthy pieces with this limited material, but cranks out some beautiful material with it. Of course the crackling vinyl plays an important role, but throughout there is a great sense of peace and warmness in these recordings. Everything moves solemnly and slowly around, and makes a hotbed of ambient sounding material, but albeit an ambience of a highly original kind. Perhaps limited in it's concept, the execution thereof is great.
Manu Holterbach, inventor of the electronic glasses (see Vital Weekly 472), works also with spatialization devices and mutant loudspeakers, but also installations and performances. For the piece presented on this miniCD, he locked a microphone hermetically in a bottle. He threw the bottle in a Swiss river, the Aare, and made this recording. If you open a bottle of some drink with bubbles, you might be fascinated at the sounds of the bubbles escaping. The first half of this piece sounds a bit similar, but if you listen carefully you can also hear voices from aside of the river. But they are far away, and as the piece progresses, they become louder. Perhaps the bottle washed ashore? It's a pretty single-minded concept that however works out very well. It's a beauty to listen to. Somewhere between highly filtered rain sounds and opening the next beer can. (FdW)

THE ETERNAL PRESENT (CDR compilation by Elvis Coffee Records)
In Vital Weekly we first encountered the music of Psychic Space Invasion, aka Ian Holloway via two releases that were a bit different from each-other. One of them was drone music. For his new one he expands again on the subject of drone music. In a forty minute piece he plays one long drone, which starts out quite solemnly, but over the course of the next forty minute, things get expanded and more spacious through the use of sound effects, mainly the phaser or flanger. I am not sure, but it doesn't need be expensive synthesizers to make something that sounds very good. There is a strong similarity between this release and the first few Jliat releases, with a kind of similar organ like sound, but Psychic Space Invasion does just a little bit more than Jliat did in the past.
On the same label we have 'The Eternal Present', the second label compilation of bands on The Elvis Coffee Records label. Other than Psychic Space Invasion, none of the names mean much to me. Kiss My Farkin, Swn, Les 7 Mondes, Ghoul Detail, Analgeek and The Buff Monkey Ensemble for those who want to know. They all play some kind of music that is best classified as 'experimental' in whatever capacity. A bit of drones, computer generated time stretching or just a bunch of beats. Much of the material is rather lo-fi and consist more of ideas than of worked out pieces of music, but it's a nice collection. At least for those who want to seek out something really new. (FdW)

The complete "Vital Weekly" is available at: Vital Weekly

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