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Vital Weekly 533

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Despite it's limited size, the Infraction Records label, are one of the few still going strong labels when it comes to ambient music. The real ambient music, not a residu of something that involves either rhythm or noise. Milieu is one Brian Grainger and as such we don't know much about him, but he has released two CDRs on Belgium's U-Cover label and 'Beyond The Sea Lies The Stars' is his first proper CD release. He cites The Caretaker's 'Haunted Ballroom' and William Basinski 'Disintergration Loops' as his main influences - and I'd say it's not just an influence, he no less tries to copy those albums and integrates them in his own music. There is a 'air' of 'rustiness' in the four tracks, like it has been uncovered from a few inches of dust, but it didn't wash off completely. These sounds are chopped off into loops and multi-layered before presented to us. A bit of a grainy sound, that somewhere along the lines from little melodies, that hum about. More Basinski than The Caretaker perhaps, but it wouldn't entirely justify to say that Milieu is a mere copy cat. Do all bands that have guitars sound like Elvis? The analogue hissing sound from Basinski is merely an idea that can be adopted, and that is what Milieu does. He adopts a technique and plays around with it, perhaps a adding a bit of synthesizer here and there and creates his own swirl of ambient drone music. Genre wise nothing new under the sun, but it's a dam fine album    altogether. (FdW) Address:

(CD by Friendly House)
The name Testbild! sounds a bit like a German synth band from the early 80s (there was one, Din-A-Testbild), but this Testbild is certainly 2006 and Swedish. They are with four, with no references as to who plays what, and their previous release 'The Inexplicable Feeling Of September' was nominated by Swedish National Radio for their P3 Guld prize in 2005 as the best pop album. That was an autumn album, where as this new album 'Imagine A House' is a summer album. While we are sweating away in our houses, we listen to Testbild!. At least I do, but perhaps I don't like to be outside? Perhaps I'm strange? Perhaps I like Testbild!? Yes, to all three questionmarks. Testbild! plays POP music, dream like popmusic, folk like popmusic that has a vague dark undercurrent: not everything in summertime is pleasant, and Testbild! are aware of that. There are probably strings of references to made to Testbild!, from Simon & Garfunkel to Belle & Sebastian, this is sweet (sometimes bittersweet) melodies and lyrics, which is great stuff, but perhaps a bit too long at sixteen tracks. Of worthy notion for the Dutchman in me, is the piece called 'Bas Jan Ader', the Dutch visual artist who set out to sail across the Atlantic in 1975 (I believe) and who never made it. That is always nice to see. A great CD, one to dream away with in the shadow. (FdW) Address:


K. LEIMER - STATISTICAL TRUTH (CD by Palace Of Light Records)
When was the last time I heard K. Leimer? I don't remember, but I'm sure if was quite some time ago, maybe even close to a decade. His LPs on his own Palace Of Light Records (which also released music by Anode, Marc Barreca, Roy Finch, Micheal William Gilbert and Steven Peters) were, as far as I remember ambient works with a strong(er) love for some more experimental edges in music. That was so in the early 80s when K. Leimer started to release his music, and so it is today. Normally that would be a bit of problem, if Leimer would release an album every year or so, but he doesn't do that, as in twenty-five years or so, this might very well be his seventh release. It still sounds very much like the old days: stretched synthesizer patterns, played on a bunch of analog synths, a mellotron and several sound effects. It seems to me like a relatively simple setup, but in the eleven tracks produced, the whole history of ambient passes by: from the furniture music of Satie, via Cage and Reich, via Eno and Fripp, via Hassell and Reyes to... K. Leimer. Minimal on the synths, sparse ethno percussion (only in a couple of tracks), and even something that sounds like a field recording. Despite the fact that ambient is at a stand-still for quite some time, and despite the fact that some other artists produce twenty times more of this kind of music, I must say that the quality of K. Leimer is quite outstanding. Its varied throughout, great production with much depth, and simply gorgeous. Great return, perhaps. Or perhaps another landmark for the next ten years. (FdW)

Straight outta Glasgow comes Gay Against You, being Oats Soda (aka Joe Howe) and Mr Big Softie, known to his mum as Lachlann Rattray, who also works as Yoko Oh No! They like Cindy Lauper, Minor Treat, The Locust and a band called Child Pornography. 'Muscle Milk' is their debut album as Gay Against You and holds no less than seventeen tracks in just over thirty one minutes. That is almost the right punk spirit me thinks, and even when no guitars or such are used by Gay Against You, the spirit of short songs, aggressive sound, played around on a bunch of custom made synthesizers (or perhaps some such made in the digital domain) to which they sing their songs. It's hard to understand what the lyrics are about, but perhaps understanding lyrics is not the first concern of Gay Against You. A bit of breakcore beats, blasts of noise and general mayhem is what is holding this album together. There is no point in playing this album at a soft volume, but loud and massive is the only thing needed. Probably even better is hearing them in a raw, concrete, low basement, packed with a sweaty audience. But until then, this CD is a good alternative.
And if this didn't proof that Adaadat isn't 'just' a breakcore label, then there is always Cutting Pink With Knives, a trio of Dan Antell on bass, Chris Abitbol on vocals and synth and Edi Frankel on guitar programming and vocals and they are anglo/american and 'Oh Wow!' is their second CD. Even more compact than Gay Against You, Cutting Pink With Knives offer thirteen tracks in twenty minutes of which the last track, 'Merry Fucking Christmas, You Spineless Fuck' lasts ten minutes and that is the odd-ball in this collection, with it's lengthy guitar drone spiraling towards the end. That leaves twelve tracks, all around thirty seconds to one minute of total noise core, inspired by grindcore, hardcore punk and postpunk. Someone switches on a drum machine (not listed among the instruments), which goes quickly into full gear mode: ultra fast beats and the guitars grinding the cement. The vocals are no less aggressive and the total mayhem, no matter how short it is, leaves the listener breathless. These two bands should tour together and suck out what ever adrenaline you have left. (FdW) Address:

NORBERT MÖSLANG - BURST_LOG (CD by For 4 Ears Records)
As is not irregular with the releases on For 4 Ears Records, Günter Müller plays an important role on these releases: he's the man behind the label and since long a known improviser, and since already quite a few years credited with 'ipod and electronics', although originally he was a drummer. On the first disc he plays with Ami Yoshida (voice) and the for me unknown Masahiko Okura on alto sax and tubes. This disc has two sections: the first section is a live recording made in 2004, while the other three pieces were made in a studio by the two Japanese musicians, sending of this work to Müller who completed the pieces by adding his own sound material. In the live recording they seem to be taking care of things a bit with too much care: distilled sounds, many times isolated from others, the instrument as object playing. It's all fine but a bit on the safe side of things. With a world of difference from the three studio tracks. Here the very presence of sound is the main focus. It has deep end bass sounds, much more electronica and on top we find the sounds produced by the Japanese: sparse, but always upfront, present when sounding. The result are three highly tense and intense pieces of music. Great stuff.
With former Voice Crack member Norbert Möslang, Günter Müller already produced some work, being 'Boom_box' on Grob (see Vital Weekly 432). Right after that was released the two went to Japan and played several concerts between april 17 and 23 2004. Möslang plays his everyday cracked electronics and Müller again his ipod and electronics. Seven cuts on this CD and it's nowhere near the previous live cut of Müller with his Japanese friends. Just like 'Boom_box', this rather expressionist music, no silence allowed. Highly rhythmic, using no machines, but a rhythmic, almost percussive playing of objects, wires, electronics by Möslang and Müller adds a blend of likewise rhythmic sounds, streaming off from his ipod and electronics. It's highly vibrant music, even when it comes to a quieter moment in 'Yamaguchi_1', that softly spoken with great intentions. It's music that leaves great space still, despite all activity going on, breathing about. Intense, even a bit noisy at times, but a wonderful trip. Electronic improvised music at its very best.
In Vital Weekly 420 the very first Norbert Möslang solo CD 'Lat_nc' was reviewed, after some twenty five years membership of Voice Crack. On his first solo CD he continued his modus operandi from Voice Crack, but taking things to the studio. On 'Burst_log' he continues that, but in an even more restricted way: taking the first three tracks from his first solo CD and processing them once more into six new tracks. This 'self-remixing' was a more common practice in the 80s, with bands like P16.D4, but it's good to see this revived here. It's musique concrete in optima forma, even when Möslang takes things into a more rhythmic area. Small blocks of sounds are formed, looped around and Möslang create densely layered, rhythmic patterns that are not unlike the work of Pan Sonic, certainly in the first two pieces of this CD. Further down the road, things are more spacious (without ever getting close to ambient music of course), but it's less based on rhythm here. It is a rather surprising work, not one that takes the route of going more abstract, but takes up the limitation of more rhythmic work and expand from that. At that, this is a great work. (FdW)

Between recording a weekly Chefkirk release, Roger Smith now also has time to recording with one Kenneth Yates of a band called Harm Stryker as Insects With Tits (which is, let's be honest, a shitty name). Since I never heard of Harm Stryker (or perhaps don't remember it), I have no idea what Yates' influence is in this lot, but it's positive one. Gone are the sometimes haphazard recordings of Chefkirk, whose tracks aren't always the most worked out in the world, and replaced by densely layered ambient synths, which are recorded in full overload. On top are the more piercing electronics, presumably from Chefkirk, waving a fine but harsh pattern of noise. Rhythm plays a less important role here, but it's throughout a most enjoyable release. Going beyond the realms of ambient industrial, this is just a lot more industrial than ambient, it on the other hand stays away from the pure overkill walls of distortion. A bit of collage, a bit more ambient, a bit too much improvisation still and it's a fine release. Maybe Chefkirk should explore this more too. (FdW) Address:

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