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Vital Weekly 537

img  Tobias

Cocosolidciti is a pretty unique label in that way that their releases are these days always a CD and a DVD, and usually by people I never heard of. They work together on the end result, even though it's usually filmmakers putting film to existing music. Pretty Boy Crossover has had releases before on labels such as Surgery and Sensory, both from Australia, but 'We're All Drifting' took three years to make. Guitars play a big role in this music, that is however highly electronical. Pretty Boy Crossovers music is foremost written in minor keys to depict melancholy. This is were shoegazing meets glitch, or some such. Rhythms are kept to a laidback pace and the mood is overall a bit dark. Maybe a times a bit too doomy for my taste. The DVD has two films by Julio Soto and music by Pretty Boy Crossover. His films consist of urban scapes, cities from a helicopter view, airplanes and fish. All of these are layered, thus giving it all a dreamy context. And it's a context that fits the music quite well. The same melancholy that is captured in the music, is also captured in the images. Especially in 'Invisible Cities' this works really well. The layered images of cities add a haunting and spooky texture. With images perhaps better than without. (FdW) Address:

(CD by EM Records)
In a big room overlooking Osaka, two men are playing one electric guitar, one sort of bass, preamps, amplifiers, microphones, but no effects. They are Tim Olive, who toured with Nimrod, Twerdocleb and Soap-Jo Henshi, and played improvised music with all sorts of people from the scene and there is Brunsho Nisikawa, who played with Osaka bands such as Brazil, Kakisubata, Pocket Kiniko and Ko-q. Both have a rock background. Not that it matters for the recordings captured on their self-titled album. The eight pieces are improvised, but sort of all in between various genres. It's not the silent type of improvisation, the guitars sound as guitars, albeit played with objects and such. There are elements of noise, through the use of feedback, but it never gets anywhere obnoxious loud and dirty. The noise here plays a rather functional role: it adds to the same what raw character of the improvisations. Despite this rawness, there is a good portion of tension in these recordings, which clocking at some thirty eight minutes has just the right length to attract full attention. Longer would probably be, well, just too long, and shorter would probably leave an unsatisfied feeling, the feeling for more. A nice crossover between improvisation, noise and a bit rock oriented. (FdW) Address:

ANLA COURTIS - TAPE WORKS (Pogus Productions) CD
Now back to his real name Alan Courtis, this still comes out under the misspelled Anla Courtis moniker (a slight name change given to him by his former Reynols companion Miguel Tomasin), as it features music from the time he was still called Anla. Even whilst being in Reynols for most of the 90s and early years of the new century (and releasing a sludge of records accordingly) he also always made his own music. This was mostly made through the use of tapes, as he apparently didn't get a computer until 1999. Not sounding like the best idea for some progressive experimental music he actually manages to instill these tape works with lots of innovative sound spells. "Rastrillo-Termotanque" is three minutes of CD torturing in the best possible Oval way, without ever really sounding like them, a real accomplishment. Or "Studio for Wire Plugs" which is exactly made up out of only that. It doesn't all work though. "Jarabe De Llanura" is made up out of water sounds, apparently to show the ,other side' of the possibilities of water, meaning more noisy, and not new agey. It maybe works when you don't know that it's all water, but as soon as you read the nice liner notes it falls flat really. But that's only rarely, as most of it seems to hold my attention throughout. Even the more electro-acoustic pieces have a certain hands-on quality, which give these works a certain charming quality, and prevents it from falling into the trap of contemporary musique concrète. (Robert Meijer) Address:


MONTREAL SOUND MATTER (CD by Pogus Productions)
Montreal is a nice city, at least the two streets I saw when I stayed there a whole week (my mistake, I know). It has been also the second home of Francisco Lopez for the last six years, playing lots of concerts there and from there it's a small step to 'Montreal Sound Matter', a workshop on environmental sound by Senor Lopez of which there is in the end this CD, an installation and a concert. Various musicians from Montreal attended this workshop, which deals with collecting sounds from Montreal. Not to make an audio postcard of the city, but rather a more abstract and personal view of the city, by people who already lived there much longer than Lopez. So it's not a matter of saying, 'oh this is that street, or this nice restaurant ('Schwarz', anyone?)', but to sit back and take it in as a long soundscape of the city. Rather than seeing this as eight separate pieces of music, I see it as one city seen through eight microphones and some of them present their work in their most pure form, like an unaltered recording, some as a cut-up and with some it's hard to recognize any sort of field recording at all, such is the case with Tomas Philips. But all the tracks are thus placed on the CD that they make their trip through the city, from busyness to quietness and back again. Only towards the very end of the CD, in the piece by Mathieu Levesque, there is a bit of music sipping through: a computerized game music thingy. In the end we know nothing more about Montreal, but we do experienced a beautiful trip through a very nice city. It also includes pieces by Helene Prevost, Steve Heimbecker, Louis Dufort, Chantal Dumas, A_dontigny and of course Lopez himself. (FdW)

Since a few years the Ambiances Magnetiques invests in new talent. With these both releases we have another proof of this policy in our hands. On both cds we find a trio at work. With 'Today is a special day' the trio with Philippe Lauzier (alto and soprano saxes), Miles Perkin (double bass and voice) and Robbie Kuster (drums and percussion) make their first statement. Lauzier is from Montréal where he studied saxophone and composition. He is active in the fields of jazz and new music. Miles Perkin, is another rising star in the Montréal music scene. The projects he is involved in, are to many to mention. As a composer he leads his own ensemble Common Thread. Also working on many fronts in Montréal is swiss-born Robbie Kuster. As a trio they exist about two years now. Most of the compositions are by Lauzier, some others by Perkin. Also they adapt two compositions by Bela Bartok : Mikrokosmos #61 and # 113. Their jazz is far from traditionalistic, but also not superbly modern, but somewhere in the middle. With their their disciplined and well crafted playing they create an open and dynamic music that is very mature. In all respects a very consistent trio of dedicated players with a clear concept and identity. Couldn't find a weak spot here.
Totally different is 'Idiolalla', a collaboration of two female singers, DB Boyko and Christine Duncan, completed by Jean Martin on drums. This trio is specialized in very free form improvisations, with mainly both vocalists on the forefront. From Vancouver comes DB Boyko. She worked with the NOW Orchestra and made impression with her song-cycle Amphibious Tales in the 90's. Of both Christine Duncan - with a five octave range - the one who has the most experience. She worked with Kenny Wheeler, Paul Horn, etc. Percussionist Jean Martin worked with David Murray, Lori Freedman, and many others. So speaking of 'new talents' should be taken as a very relative notion. By the way, Duncan and Martin also perform as a duo. The non-verbal mouth music of this trio is very dramatic and intense. Drummer Martin plays modest but effective. But when listening repeatedly to this cd, I could not suppress the thought that all becomes a bit more of the same. Which is may be due to the free form
character of their improvisations. So how expressive and adventurous the improvisations may be, this does not guarantee a CD that impresses from beginning to the end. (Dolf Mulder) Address:

DAN JOSEPH - ARCHAEA (CD by Mutable Music)
When I opened the package containing this CD, I immediately thought this would be more music for fellow writer Dolf Mulder, but out of curiosity I played it first. Dan Joseph is a composer who has been working inside the experimental tape music underground since the late 80s, but later on went to get degrees at CalArts and Mills College. As instrument he plays the hammer dulcimer. On 'Archaea' he plays this instrument, along with a small ensemble, of violin, clarinet, percussion, harpsichord and cello. Joseph says to be influenced by the first generation of minimalists, and that is well heard throughout these three pieces (all between fifteen and twenty minutes). I played this with curiosity and fell in love with this. Especially the first two pieces, 'Percussion And Strings' and 'Archaea Quartet' are great. It's an odd mixture of minimalism, along Steve Reich's early seventies works (like 'Octet', but then without any wind instruments), oriental (eastern Europe), baroque and even mediaeval at times. Melodies flow by, instruments shift about and small webs are formed and shaped. The hammer dulcimer gives the music a certain drive, hammering (pun intended) the basic chords of the pieces. That adds an element of 'rock music' to the pieces. Think The Lost Jockey (when is that coming on CD?), Micheal O'Shea and a very mild Glenn Branca meeting Steve Reich and Micheal Nyman. There are so many links to so many people, but Joseph knows how to keep his music fresh. That 'Lotus Quintet' is the weakest link, is ok. It has good movements, but somehow the drive is less apparent. Great CD (sorry Dolf). (FdW) Address:

STROTTER INST - ANNA/ANNA (7" by Implied Sound)
The only time I ever saw a record spinning backwards was 'Tractor' by The Haters, who convinced Aardvarck cutting to make it like that. Today's 7" by Strotter Inst is the second time I see and hear one. Strotter Inst. is one Christoph Hess, playing music on five old Lenco turntables. He has a couple of previous releases, of which I only heard  'Live @ Oblo Cinema' on 1000+1 Tilt Recordings (see Vital weekly 504, where we misspelled his name). On this 7" he has four tracks. The two tracks on the outside, i.e. where you start playing the record, spin from the outside to the inside, the track after that from the inside to the outside, and they all end in lockgrooves. Thus perhaps a bit hard for those with automatic turntables. It's a bit like the poem 'Anna Blume' by Kurt Schwitters, 'a n n a' can be read from the back as well. The four pieces are quite short, around three minutes each, and consisting of rotating loops that make intense patterns, especially on 'Na' (of the a-side). Think Philip Jeck, think Institut Fuer Feinmotorik, and you'll get the loop. It's a pity that these are all so short, since there is more potential in the music, given some more time. Next time perhaps a 10" or 12"? (FdW) Address:

When I was much younger, my father used to explain classical music to me as a story: "Peter & The Wolf' being an obvious one, but also 'Die Moldau' by Bedrich Smetana: the river from a small creek developing into a big river, depicted in music. I don't recall if Gustav Holst's 'The Planets' were part of this training. I don't think so. It's too late to ask, but it seems my father didn't like that piece very much, although I do recall hearing it. Written in 1916, Holst wrote a piece for every of the seven known planets then, each with it's own character, as each planet was to have it's own characterics. Mars being fury, Venus being love etc. On 'The Operation Of The Heavens', Greg characteristicsHeadley transforms Holst's piece 'using a method modeled on ancient alchemy', using a bit of elements from the original, but composing much more of his own. Headley started out as a guitar player of the more unusual kind. So it has been a while since I last the original, but I am sure it sounded quite a bit different than Headley's one. His seven pieces are in an odd way, all quite ambient to some extent. String like sounds, processed, sustained guitar sounds, sometimes building up tension and sometimes not at all, and things continue to move like in a vast, empty space. This is throughout a very spacious (sorry for the obvious word) music, that perhaps doesn't sound too different from each other, i.e. the planets might remain the same, but as a weightless journey this is very nice. This should have been released on a real CD on a label like Hypnos or any some such ambient label. (FdW) Address:

Of course you know Vend, who had a couple of releases on 12K and Line. This is a UK based duo of Joe Gilmore, formerly of Powerbooks For Peace and Rand()%, an automated net radio station and Alex Peverett. As noted before, they are a laptop duo operating from the safe boundaries of microsound. 'Karada Bi Ai' is a CDR release that they made for their Japan tour, which is just over. I assume they have a couple of copies left to sale for those who didn't come over to Japan. The three pieces here sound what one could expect from a laptop duo working inside microsound, even when it also seems that much of their work is based on improvisation. Working with highly processed field recordings and treated electro acoustic objects, it sounds more lively that some of the more regular ambient glitch around. Sounds pop in and out of the mix, creating highly vibrant textures, that have a strange psychedelic mood to them. The only disadvantage is that it doesn't shed too much new light on microsound, so that the question 'where to next' still stands. (FdW) Address:

UNCHAINED - THE CARDINAL CAGE (CD-R by Kitty Play Records/MP3 by
Unchained is a one-man project from the USA. He has several self-released cassettes and CD-Rs, which are all available in mp3-format from his homepage. On "The cardinal cage", recorded in NYC in March 2006, Unchained goes for the psychedelic side of guitar noise. The setting is quite simple, the guitar is fed through some delay and distortion pedals, but its sound always remains recognizable. This results in more or less spacey melodies which are buried under a wall of distortion. 'Unchained' doesn't build his tracks from multiple layers of sound, but rather relies on the massive amount of distortion he applies to his guitar playing to create the drone quality of the music. This is nice, but maybe is a bit too basic. On his previous release "Problems" (2005) Unchained also relies on distortion very much, but besides the guitar he incorporates more instruments, i.e. cheap keyboards, drums and vocals, and even plays some 'real' songs, thus arriving at a more varied sound with strange little melodies and lots of lo-fi hum and background noises. Compared to "The cardinal cage" this is certainly the more interesting approach and well worth exploring further. (Magnus Schaefer)

ITTO - SOUND ON AN EMPTY ROAD (CDR by Elvis Coffee House Records)
Very honestly the man from the Elvis Coffee House Recordings admits that writing press releases drive him insane, so he didn't do one for Itto. Fair enough, but it limits the length of the review also a bit. I think Itto are Ian Holloway and Neil Rowling, as the are credited with 'sound' on the cover, and they play just one long, thirty-eight minute piece of drone music on 'Sound On An Empty Road'. It's not the sustaining of a couple of notes, but throughout this piece things move about considerably, from the low end rumble by which it starts, to a higher pitched section somewhere in the middle and more mid range tones towards the end. There are some suggestions of field recordings, most notably cars on a road (even when the title suggests something else) and throughout this is more abstract and experimental drone music than 'just' drone music. At times the frequencies used are a bit too nasty and mean to get classified as pure drone music, but this more adventurous road is certainly one of the things that make this one of the better ones in it's genre. (FdW) Address:

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