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Vital Weekly 527

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THEME - OUR ANGELS DISLOCATED (CD by Lumberton Trading Company)
And some people just take their time. A lot of time. And why not? Theme's first album 'On Parallel Shores Removed' was released in 2001 (see Vital Weekly 247) and after that things were mostly quiet, apart from an odd concert around my corner, which I sadly missed. Theme is a trio of Stuart Carter, Richard Johnson and Hassni Malik, formerly part of Splintered, in which they sliced guitar and field recordings together. On this new album, recorded over the course of four years in various places, they play sitar, guitar, piano, indian pipes, violin, keyboard, voices and field recordings. Unlike some (many?) others of the former UK noise/guitar scene, Theme works with an updated sound, taking notice of whatever is 'new' in the world of experimental music, without copying these new genres straight away. Rather they go back to their own instruments and to figure out how to play, say Pan Sonic, with the means they have. In 'Repeat To Fade', they succeed quite well. Theme connects the present and the past, taking their old influences and style figures into the newly found musical interests. Maybe the chanting at the end of 'East Of Now' sounds a bit ridiculous, through this second album Theme knows how to capture a great, dark atmosphere, without falling into the all to easily traps of 'dark ambient' or 'gloomy doomy music', but adding their own finely flavored sounds and interest. Both modern and old are united here in a more than excellent way. (FdW)

The press release mentions 'Plateforms' to be the title, and the artists being Herve Boghossian (electric guitar), Stephane Rives (soprano saxophone) and Matthieu Saladin (amplified bass clarinet), whereas I though Plateforms was the name of the band. Either way, it's not really important. Boghossian runs also the List label, and has shown us a couple of times on his own label, his own radical sound approach. The label describes this trio in terms of 'free improvisational jazz', which is stretching terms a bit further. The three play around with the notion of feedback, long sustained sounds coming from their instruments, opening with a fiery high end tone, which abruptly, after a while, fades over into something very deep, bass end hum. Over the long course of this recording - a live one from june last year - you may recognize something that can indeed be a saxophone or a clarinet (the guitar keeps humming and is never strummed), moving carefully through all the various possibilities that feedback can offer. In a way the influence of Alvin Lucier is never far away, but what 'Plateforms' does is much less rigid in terms of concept and much more playful and within their self-chosen system of sound, indeed much more musical and open for repeated listening (something that is not always the case with Lucier's work). A fine, delicate woven work.
On the same label a work from the for me unknown Dawid Szczesny from Poland. He works with old LPs, tapes and field recordings. There are four pieces on his 3"CDR. The first is 'Snow Beetrot', which includes the guitar playing of Dawid Bargenda, with whom Dawid Szczesny plays live. The other three tracks are by Dawid Szczesny solo. All four tracks have a neat warm atmosphere about them, even when they are all made in the world of digital music. The guitar in 'Snow Beetrot' tinkles away, with some glitchy loops at the bottom. The other three tracks are based about loops, played live and which is ever changing configurations come by. They appear to be a bit more monochrome than 'Snow Beetrot' but work quite well. The third part of 'Stapes' is very short and seems only to be included as a disc-filler. Szczesny plays micro/glitch music in what that is already widely known, but does it considerably well. (FdW)

JOCELYN ROBERT - PANDORE - (4CD by Ambiances Magnetiques)
Robert is a sound artist from Quebec. Originally working as an architect he changed to music in the 80s. First results were released by the label of Chris Cutler, Re Records. In the 90s he founded with Christof Migone the Avatar collective, a center for soundart in Quebec.
Now Ambiances Magnetiques creates a new opportunity for learning more about his work. The box contains four different and extensive works. The set starts with '6 Drawers, 4 Spoons (Souk Souk)'. This work starts with environmental sounds, followed by gentle guitar-playing by Robert and Eric Gagnon, treated orchestral sounds, ethnic recordings, speeded up noisy rock, etc. At the end the guitar-playing returns.
CD two has a forty minute piece called 'Slow Sparks from the Split-voiced Buddha'. It begins and ends with a field recording of traditional singing by workers in Lhasa to and in between we hear what the title indicates 'slow sparks from the split-voiced buddha', in other words long sustained notes and drones that are derived from the field-recordings.
'Les Scaphandres which fills up the third CD is another 40 minute piece divided in 6 parts worked out Robert and Laetitia Sonami. Part one starts with very harsh noises. It deals with a text, but not approached as written language, but as a numerical object.
On CD four Robert cooperates with Louis Ouellet in '24 exercises de parallaxe'. 24 variations all of almost the same length for piano mécanique. Composition and computer programming make up the constitutive elements of this work. Of all four works this is the most 'musical' one in the traditional sense of the word.
No doubt a release of this format, offers a representative introduction to the work of Robert. But it may be a bit risky for the interested listener to start with this expensive release. Anyway, thank you Ambiances Magnétiques for this release. (Dolf Mulder)


People interested in electronic music, might have met at least one of the projects by Australian composer David Thrussell during their musical explorations. David Thrussell has been the brain behind a number of the most interesting projects from the Australian experimental scene in almost two decades, spanning from the cinematic ambient-based soundscape-project SOMA, via his most well-known and Industrial-based project Black Lung to Snog, which is the oldest of his projects. Established back in 1988, Snog is the most politically focused project of David Thrussell. Since the debut album "Lies inc." the aim of the project has been to fight against capitalism and western consume culture. As is the case with other releases from Snog, the tracks on this latest attack on the consumption society, titled "Snog vs. the faecal juggernaut of mass culture, are first of all lyrically based with a nice balance between a serious and a humorous approach to the subjects. Musically the album is an eye-opener with its massive use of slide guitar and shuffle beats in one moment and in the next, interventions of full-throttle breakbeats. To understate his ability in treating the acoustic sound world, David Thrussell adds eight mp3-bonus tracks of exclusive acoustic based works including alternative guitar-based versions of tracks from the original part of the album. All said and done, Snog was one of the most fiercely original bands of the 1990s Industrial scene, and it's a great pleasure listening to this eight full-length subversion of Western society. (Niels Mark Pedersen)

If you didn't know better you might have thought that Staalplaat had collected new materials for yet another Muslimgauze-album, when listening to the opening minutes of this third opus from belgium project This Morn Omina. Threatening percussive beats and distorted electronic soundscapes gives me associations towards a track like "Satyajit Eye" from the Muslimgauze' album "Vote Hezbollah" (1993). An effective opening that are soon after overtaken by the well-known spheres of ethnic power Industrial from This Morn' Omina. Being the follow-up to the first chapter of the "Nyan Trilogy" titled "Le serpent blanc / le serpent rouge", it took three years to reach this second chapter of the trilogy. It was definitely worth the wait though! The conceptual approach of "This Morn' Omina" has since the debut album from 1997 titled "Nezeru Enti Sebauem Neterxertet" been a harsh mixture of aggressive industrial and tribal trance, exclusively kept in the electronic sound world. On "Les passages Jumeaux" acoustic elements have found its way into the sound-spheres of heavy beat-driven machinery. The brain behind This Morn' Omina, Mika Goedrijk, has joined forces with percussionist Sal-Olin. Thus "Les passages Jumeaux" represents a remarkable step in the eastern direction of the musical style first of all thanks to the percussions of Sal-Olin but also because of the frequent use of ethnic voice samples as well as the processed sounds of tablas and other exotic musical instruments. With two discs clocking 100+ minutes, "Les passages Jumeaux" is the perfect source for some ongoing physical activity during summer. Highly recommended! (Niels Mark Pedersen)

DJ OLIVE - SLEEP (CD by Room40)
These two releases by Room40 are both about ambient music, each in their own way. DJ Olive's work for some reason went by me, without noticing it. I don't why, but it happened. So it's not easy to compare this with his other work. Apparently DJ Olive did some 'sleep parties' in the nineties, and this CD can be seen as a soundtrack for that. It's a highly ambient record, but it's not an album of one big audio cloud, lulling the listener into dreamland. It starts out with a deep end drone, but as the piece progresses over the next forty-five minutes, it moves through various other textured pieces and becomes more subtle throughout. It can be seen as the various stages of sleep, but perhaps it's also, when played softly enough, the idea to put this one when you go to bed, and the sound dying out slowly on you. Not my favorite way of either listening to music, or going to sleep, but when awake and present, this provides a highly dense listening experience that can also be fully enjoyed when awake.
Keith Fullerton Whitman was recently on tour in Australia and for the occasion he made a limited edition CDEP called 'Track 4 (2 Ways Superimposed)'. Over the course of twenty-one minute, he creates an even more quiet piece of ambient than DJ Olive does. Slowly passing by moving clouds of sound, and some carefully constructed small rhythm section on top. That is about it, but its a gentle flowing piece of music, moving through one shade, rather than DJ Olive's multiple shades, but it creates a likewise sound environment that works well on a lazy sunday afternoon, with a good book and a glass of wine at hand. (FdW)

(CD by Innova)
Me not liking the opera genre very much is probably a childhood trauma, with a father liking them very much and occasionally playing them quite loud. So it's with some suspicion that I started playing this, an electronic opera, all played on an Atari 800XL and a female voice - I think these things are called 'chamber opera'. 'The plot revolves around a lone traveler who searches for a lost treasure in a parallel world. Finding a portal in front of 419 East 6th Street and performing a dance right there in the street, the hooded traveler escapes toward sunset/sunrise'. The traveler sends notes about his journey, which is the story. I need to quote that since the singing didn't make that clear to me, even when the libretto (I know my words, see?) is included in the booklet. The music sounds indeed like ancient electronica, which is sometimes quirky, uptempo, almost baroque in the title piece and on other occasions sets in for a more moody playing. I have not much knowledge on the composers of this mini opera, Yoav Gal and Yael Kanarek, but their work is quite nice. Maybe the singing is a bit too much in reference to traditional opera for me, but throughout I quite enjoyed this, perhaps for the strangeness among the rest here this week. (FdW)

The front cover of this release just says Mark Wastell, but flip the cover and an impressive list of musicians is shown, a who's who in onkyo and improvised music. Tetuzi Akiyama, Rhodri Davies, Graham Halliwell, Paul Hood, Annette Krebs, Mattin, Andrea Neumann as well as some people that perhaps are lesser known such as Benedict Drew, Michael Duch and Nishide Takehiro. The instruments range from inside piano, guitars, violoncello, harp, double bass, to amplified and feedback saxophone, laptop and gp3 record player. I assume they perform some sort of score of some kind, prepared by Wastell, and that after the recordings it was edited to this almost thirty minute piece of music which is a fine, I'd say very fine, cross-over between classical composition and improvisation. Feedback like sounds swell up and slowly disappear, while the acoustic part of the group devotes themselves to playing pizzicato sounds, but everything happens in a slow fashion. It's a pity it rather ends abruptly, as it could have easily lasted another fifteen or so minutes and bringing the proceedings to a more natural conclusion. But otherwise: a great release! (FdW)

(CDR by Cohort Records)
A stormhat is not a hat you wear during a storm, but means monk's cowl and behind the musical project with that name we find one Peter Bach Nicolaisen from Denmark. He is associated with the Krabbesholm School of Art and Architecture Design, who released a 3"CD from him. What 'Vindspejl' means I don't know, but I assume something like 'wind arrow' and it brings us straight away to the main interest for Nicolaisen, being field recordings. These are widely treated inside the computer and create a work that falls in the microsound world. Carefully cracking about, drones created from stale wind recordings, bass sounds from earthly activities: all the usual suspects are there. As such it's absolutely nothing new under the sun of microsound, but Stormhat does a fine job. None of the eight tracks are weak by any standards, perhaps sometimes a bit interchangeable, but it's produced with care and style. That is sometimes enough. (FdW)

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

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