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Vital Weekly 538

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AUDIOTOOP (CD compilation by Korm Plastics)
This CD documents some of the radioplays that took place as a live event in Extrapool, Holland. Audiotoop is a sympathetic try to revive this old medium. But it is more than that, as everything took place live before an audience. Also this release is accompanied by a beautiful book with artworks and a textual contribution by Felix Kubin. So several media are combined for this project.
Extrapool invited several musicians and (sound) artists for this project, most of them being new for me: Jana & Bertin, Jan Schellink, Lem & Lemmoineau, Vernon & Burns, etc, etc. Not all of them obey to - what I think is - the first law of radioplay, namely it has to have a narrative structure. A radioplay always tells a story, isn't it? "De Sinuskapel" by Quinten Dierick for example is a dark piece just consisting of low noises, evoking the wind that blows over a deserted place. In that respect a perfect radioplay as it leaves room to our own phantasy to imagine a story, a world, etc. The contribution by Freek Lomme and Remco van Bladel is more close to a soundpoem. "Spatial Transition" by Marten de Wind And Tamar Frank opens with environmental sounds from Extrapool, to be followed by a loud and high tone - not very pleasant for my ears - that continues for the rest of this piece. No voice, no story.
All three pieces are very short, so may be there were meant as an interlude. All other pieces go from 6 up to 11 minutes, and come more close to the medium of radioplay. The opening track by Jana and Bertin is the best one. In the form of a english teaching lesson they tell little stories, nicely decorated with simple tunes and noises. In "Robosapien en de 6 baby poppetjes" Jan Schellink tells an absurd childstory, without the addition of any other sounds. "The notebook of Elisabeth Hojesky" by Jörg Piringer and Elffriede is another highlight on this CD. We hear a voice reading from a diary, with it's typical short descriptive sentences that tell what happened, on day x, z, etc. The soundtape to this one is very interesting and perfectly integrated with the reading voices. Listening to this varied CD you ask yourself why is the radioplay such a sadly neglected medium, as it is a very powerful and imaginative artform. Let's hope that Extrapool and Korm Plastics will continue their Audiotoop-adventure. (Dolf Mulder)

(CD by Bottrop-boy)
Ah the Norwegian lover boys of noise, John Hegre and Lasse Marhaug, also known as Jazzkammer returns once again. Their previous slab of music, 'Metal Music Machine' didn't make it into these pages, which was a pity, since that saw a shift from the laptop noise into the world of six strings. Actually a pair of six strings. 'Panic' is an epic piece for the city. Not the glorious big city life, but rather a picture of decay, emptiness and loneliness: the city at its most ugly. This doesn't lead to ugly music though, as there is a lot of beauty in this decay. Just like the booklet has pictures of decay, beautifully shown by Yuen Chee Wai, this dueling guitars take the listener to the beauty beneath the sewer, with desolate, sustaining strumming, haunted by effects. That is roughly in the first fifteen minutes, but after that the ugly face is shown and we are full blown in the streets: guitars howl about with great intensity and furious like hell. It's like being in a car at night, driving a great speed and the street lights flicker by. All of this until we collapse. We are left on the sidewalk and we can see the city in full decay. No-one is there to help, everybody is afraid and the gangs roam the streets. A city in panic. The final part is an illusion: it seems nice on the surface, yet no-one is happy. The panic is still there and the silenced music is just a facade. The perfect soundtrack for a movie about cities in the late twenty-first century or the soundtrack of today's reality? My city is too small, but I can imagine a few where this is reality. A great work. (FdW)

- (CD by Ambiances Magnetiques)
With "Ellen's Bar" guitarist Berthiaume delivers his third album for Ambiances Magnétiques. He debuted with "Soshin", a free improvised record with duos with Derek Bailey and Fred Frith. His second one was also a free improvised record with some young musicians of Berthiaumes generation. For "Ellen's Bar" Berthiaume formed a trio with Pierre Tanguay on drums and Michel Donato on bass. No free improvised explorations this time, but a true jazz album. And a very nice one too. Nicely grooving from beginning to the end. Tanguay and Donato turn out to be perfect partners for Berthiaume who does some nice solowork with great control. Most pieces are the same in mood and tempo, not fast, not to slow. But always very captivating. No loose ends on this one.
Pierre Cartier also returns for his newest cd to the classic jazz period. With Jean Derome (sax and flutes), Jean René (viola), Tom Walsh (trombone), Bernard Falaise (guitar) and Pierre Tanguay (drums), Pierre Cartier (voice and bass) offers a new collection of jazz-inspired songs. As in earlier song cycles Cartier uses poems from diverse french-speaking poets. For his new album, he choose poems from Quebecois poets (Michel Garneau, Gaston Miron, Pierre Perrault, Paul-Marie Lapointe), plus one by Apollinaire and another one by himself. To be more precise, for this new cycle of songs Cartier sought inspiration by jazz standards and Broadway love songs. Nevertheless his songs have a definitely french flavor, and not that typical american character of the predecessors that Cartier inspired. They are for example not so smooth, because Cartier has his very own way of placing accents in his singing style that is sometimes close to dissonance. Most ballads continue in their own slow tempo giving plenty of room for nice solowork by Derome, Walsh and the others. (Dolf Mulder) Address:

(CD by Ravenheart)
It was only six weeks ago that we reviewed 'Extermination Processing Tower' by Swedish Objekt 4. Back then we entirely forgot to mention that this CD as well as many other works, including the new 'her Face Among The Shadows', are available as Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound. I am sure that will expand the listening experience, but I only have a stereo set up. The previous release sounded a bit ambient industrial, whereas on this new one, rhythms started to play a more important role. Away from the Muslimgauze inspired pseudo tribalism, and into the land of trip hop rhythms. Slow, hypnotic, led by a bass and with sizzling, sparkling and hissing sounds underneath. Not every track is like this, as there are still the ambient industrial atmospherics that were also part of the previous release. But unlike that one, there are no weaker brothers here, all of the tracks flow nicely into each other, thus forming a good head trip. Highly atmospheric, this is beautiful but haunting soundtrack through a vast, empty, post nuclear world. A greatly matured work, compared to the previous release. (FdW) Address:

(CD by Silber Records)
How can a black day be happy? Maybe an oxymoron? It's also the name of a collaboration between Tara Vanflower (of Lycia fame) and Timothy Renner (of Stone Breath), the latter of whom I never heard. I must admit it's a strange affair this, but not an unpleasant one. It's a very odd combination of vocals by both Vanflower and Renner, who have quite opposite voices: one beautiful angelic like and one quite low. The instruments used are furthermore guitar, banjo and dulcimer. This however doesn't lead to Lycia like lyrical, heavenly voices music (which I used to put down as gothic, quite untrue of course) - at least not all the way through. There are some pieces in that quasi mediaeval style. In fact there make several traditional songs into something new, but in all their further treatments, Black Happy Day, are way more experimental than say Lycia or Dead Can Dance. Some of the other pieces just use voice, but then dubbed around, in combination with feedback and reverb. This however doesn't lead to some harsh noise, but rather beautiful pieces of haunting and somewhat frightening music. The beautiful, mediaeval style in combination with experiments of the twenty-first century: that is indeed a strange affair, but strangely enough it works really well. (FdW)

(CD by C.I.P.)
To see the new (fourth) CD by Vertonen as the logical next step since the previous release 'Orchid Collider' (see Vital Weekly 482) is not possible. There is some distinction between Vertonen in the studio and live, and 'Stations' is a collection, or rather a best of, of Vertonen's live performances from 2003 to 2006. In the studio he crafts these days deep drone works, not unlike Eliane Radigue or The Hafler Trio, but live things are more about rhythm and noise. Using records, turntables, synths and sound effects, Vertonen's sound pallet seems limited but these sixteen tracks show that he is a man of many talents. Harsh sounds play a big role, and they are cut to the edge, but Vertonen is never a full blown noise maker. The rhythm aspect, made by locking grooves on a piece of vinyl, remind the listener of Boyd Rice's alter ego Non, but it's all less minimal than that. As such 'Stations' and Vertonen's live work harks back to the old days of industrial music and that's ok in as far as he does a great job at that. It would perhaps be an idea to see if he could re-create the sonically richer material of the studio to the concert space as well.
Vinyl releases by Francisco Lopez are pretty rare. As far as I recall there is one LP on Mego and various 7" releases, four or five, but that might be it. Perhaps it's no surprise, since it's not easy to translate his music to vinyl, the sheer inaudibility that is part of perhaps 80% of his work. Here he shares a LP with Micheal Gendreau, formerly of Crawling With Tarts. Micheal's work deals with using all sorts of records, turntables, hand cut recordio disks, creating music out of the crackles, hum, static, pops, run out grooves. It's funny to see that Lopez does the same. His piece, 'Untitled #184' is audible throughout, and is a densely layered carpet of sound all sorts of sounds coming from vinyl. It hisses, pops and cracks in all sorts of ways, but never in an overtly rhythmic manner. It seems to me that Lopez created all of this by making many layers of sounds and removing any possibility of repetition. The piece by Gendreau uses similar sounds, but here musical elements leak through, or perhaps are created by the various possibilities of playing the records with motors, swift speed change and such like. Whereas Lopez creates a mass of sound, Gendreau presents an audio collage. Two possibilities of working with material like this. Two great examples of those possibilities. Richly textured and no doubt will go down for the very adventurous DJs. (FdW) Address:

(CD by Nexsound)
COURTIS/THE MOGLASS/ANDREY KIRITCHENKO (CD by Nexsound/Gold Soundz/Tib Prod/1000+1 Tilt)
'Sparrow Juice' is the sixth full length release by The Moglass, a trio from the Ukraine. They play a variety of instruments, such as electric and acoustic guitar, bass, computers, synth, voice, treatments, field recordings and alto saxophone. The Moglass are perhaps best described as an 'improvising post-rock' band. Everything they do is based on improvisation, but they always try to play gently and melodic. Most of the times they are trying to create textured, atmospheric sounds which are drone related, but in a rock context. Post-production plays an important role for them. Once the recordings are made, everything is treated on the computer in order to edit, combine and reduce sounds and to come up with what is on 'Sparrow Juice': their most refined work to date. Softly speak the humming of guitars, synths wail about, and occasionally there is hum and distortion to be discovered, but they fit wonderfully into the mix. Cut into no less than nineteen tracks, there is a great sense of homogeneity in these recordings. The Moglass have invented their own form of post-rock. Not endless clusters of guitar drones, or krautrock like drones; not jazzy inspired songs, but a powerful yet ambient rock like sound. An almost cinematographic trip of music. Very, very nice.
The Moglass are also present on a three way compilation, together with Andrey Kiritchenko and Anla Courtis (of former Reynols fame). A release by Nexsound, but also on Gold Soundz, Tib Prod and 1000+1 Tilt. This compilation presents various works by each artist/band, but each of them uses sounds from the others. The Moglass pieces are a bit heavier than on 'Sparrow Juice', dwelling more distortion and psychedelic sound effects. The result is nice, but doesn't match up with their own full length CD. Anla Courtis has three tracks in which he works with the sounds of The Moglass, but fails to set a difference with the group's own sound. Quite spacey and cosmic sound. In the two pieces using Kiritchenko's material, things are also spacious, but less closed. The best pieces are by Kiritchenko, who takes the various sources from Courtis and The Moglass into the world of the computer treatments and processing, creating with their sounds, a music that bears similar markings, but then entirely in the digital domain. Ambient and glitch related, but both at it's very best. (FdW) Address:

HATI VS Z'EV - #1 (CD by Ars Benevola Mater)
This is my introduction to Hati, a Polish band that play 'trance-gong-drone-music'. Via various psychedelic and rock band in the nineties it transformed to Hati in 2001. So far they have a few releases out, of which I heard the most recent one (here to review) and the previous 'Zero Coma Zero'. Hati plays on a whole bunch of instruments: animal horns, bamboo pipes, steel jingle bells, wooden pipe, plastic tubes, cymbal, steel lids, wood wind chimes, and much more. Their pieces are usually slow affairs, with resonating objects forming the back bone of the pieces, and percussive rumblings on top. It's a combination of drone music, sometimes quasi new age and sometimes ritualistik music. For their latest release (their fourth one) they send a whole bunch of their recordings to Z'ev with a request to him to treat the material in anyway he sees fitting. Not a strange request, since Z'ev worked with percussive material since the late sixties and worked in many sorts of percussive music but also the world of sound/studio treatments is not a stranger to him. I played first 'Zero Coma Zero' and then "#1' and I must say that even when Z'ev did a great job, it may not necessarily mean that he radically altered the material, like he did on his 'Headphone Music' or his collaborations with Chris Watson and KK Null. Rather he stays close to the original only subjecting some of the finer nuances of the material, sometimes adding some effects to accentuate the sustains and make it more drone related, and sometimes the whole thing seems a matter of editing the material down. Z'ev did a great job on this, but then I believe that Hati delivered him material that he could easily relate to, it's common ground for him to get the best out of this. It doesn't work the more radical textures that Z'ev is also known for, but it's a strong and subtle work of subconscious sound. (FdW) Address:

(CD by Flux Records)
Only early this year we reviewed 'FB01' by Frank Rothkamm (see Vital Weekly 509), of which I now learn it's a three year old recording. 'FB02 - Astronaut Of Inner Space' was recorded between 2003 and 2006 and is thus indeed his most recent recording. This new recording is 'a feast for the mind and the ears of anyone interested in the ancient past and utopian future of electronic music" because it easy to access yet complex. Rothkamm likes his ancient synth masters, like noted before both the serious Cologne masters of the fifties as well as the sci-fi soundtracks of the sixties. The pieces are best enjoyed on a 4.1 speaker system, two speakers beside the listener, two in front and a sub-woofer. All the pieces are linked through their titles and thus should be heard as one piece, indexed into nine different pieces. It's all highly mathematical music, moving away from the pop format of the previous release and the music certainly benefits from that. The length here is certainly more pop LP wise (thirty-four minutes), and tension is well kept in mind: that's certainly the way to do it! A major leap forward. (FdW) Address:

(miniCD by Alluvial Recordings)
Perhaps by intent, but Peter Duimelinks is one of the few well-known names who however never released a full length CD on his own. He is part of THU20, Kapotte Muziek and Goem, did sound installations, recorded with Frank Bretschneider a CD in the Brombron series (see Vital Weekly 530) and could probably easily do one due to interest, but he just never did. This release doesn't change that. On 'Ablution' he works with Tidal, aka David Brownstead from New York. The two exchanged sound files back and forth in 2004-2005, going through various stages of rework. "In Judaism, ablution is the process of washing away physical and mental impurities. Upon completion, the mind and body are cleansed and renewed." This miniCD with one track is a twenty minute deep dark rumble of colliding sounds. The basic is deep and dark, like highly processed field recordings, although the processing might have been generated by radical equalisation. On top there are light sparks flickering at a highly
irregular shape. When listened on headphones, static and hiss seem to be part of the piece. It's a good and solid piece of music of highly dark ambient music. There isn't a specific role for either Tidal or Duimelinks: the mark of well made collaboration. (FdW)

Over the past twenty-five or perhaps even more years Colin Potter has been active in experimental music. Just recently I realized he did release the 'Flowmotion' compilation LP, which happened to be one of my personal classics from the mid-eighties, and that should be re-issued on CD. Since the early nineties or so, he plays an important role as a member of Nurse With Wound and has his solo career taken an enormous flight. Perhaps lesser known is that Potter takes his studio qualities out of the four walls of the studio and to the stage. Just like perhaps everybody he tapes all his performances and now the time has come to select the best gigs from recent years and compile this double CD. No artwork, just two discs in a box. It's hard to tell from these discs what it is that mister Potter does on stage. Let's assume he brings some sort of sampler, some prepared audio material (synths, field recordings? who knows) and a stack of sound effects. That may sound like nothing new under the sun and perhaps it isn't. It's not the sources that count, because if we'd be honest: who cares? Its the result that matters, and presented as naked as this, we can be all the more happy. Nothing to distract the listener, just two hours of pure electronic music of a highly atmospheric and drone like nature. Disc one contains recent concert, while disc two has three older (1999 and 2000) cuts, which displays Potter's older love for incorporating rhythm into his work. This side is perhaps lesser known, since it's all drone these days, but if one is familiar with his work for Nurse With Wound, these mechanical rhythms shouldn't sound too strange. But here too, atmospherics play an important role, be it of a more nervous and hectic character. Great collection, and no doubt there is more where that came from. (FdW)

Work by Arturas Bumsteinas has been reviewed before. Currently he is active with the Laptop Quartet, interpreting classical (and no so classical) scores from the past. On these two works, released as MP3 on the internet, he however performs them solo. The first one is entirely based on the Glockenspiel, that instrument that you probably found annoying in music class in high school (I know I did). It's a most curious piece for processed recordings of that instrument. Cut short to cut off the sustaining part, this is a highly minimal work. Half way through some siren like sound drops in and obscured rumbling that adds nicely to the texture.
'Second Sequentia' is of an entirely different nature. There is a hectic, nervous kind of sound processing going on here of orchestral sounds. It's the electronic sequel to 'Sequentia' for orchestra, so if I understood rightly, this is some sort of electronic mix of his own work. It has a similar minimal approach, but there is a certain hectic involved that makes this less easy to hear. When things are dropped to a more introspective level, it's quite nice. The orchestral like sounds, repeated in a minimal blocks reminded me of Steve Reich's mid seventies pieces, and that is certainly not bad at all. (FdW)

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