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Vital Weekly 540

img  Tobias

You might well never heard of Sky Burial, but following a limited CDR release, 'Spectrehorse' is the first real CD. If I tell you that behind Sky Burial we find one Micheal Page, who is also the main protagonist of Fire In The Head, things may fall into place, and perhaps you wonder about the same thing as I did: where on earth does Micheal find the time to do all this? Fire In The Head is his noise based project/concept, but like so many others, he has time and the urge to play music that is softer. Sky Burial is his ambient/drone project, and the label cities such comparisons as Lustmord, Final, Zoviet*France, Skullflower, Earth and Sunn O))), which in some of these cases might be true, such as Lustmord, Deutsch Nepal or Skullflower, I don't think that Sky Burial plays entirely by the drone book, and that of course is fine, since why should want to keep by the rules? To me it seems that Sky Burial is the louder version of say Final, Zoviet*France and such isolationists alike. Sky Burial uses extensively the reverb unit, that not only creates a sense of space, but also in this case, a cold and mechanical setting for sounds to bump and collide. Perhaps in the end too noisy for the real drone-heads, and perhaps, certainly in a track like 'The Severed Wings Of A Killing Bird', too close to the music produced as Fire In The Head, this is nevertheless a fine disc that should go down well with those who love their Cold Meat Industries and Old Cafes from Europe. (FdW) Address:

(CD by Bedroom Community)
Bedroom Community is a new label from Reykjavik, but their first release is not from the active Icelandic scene (or what it appears like from the outside), but from Nico Muhly, originally from Vermont, USA and now living in New York. The album was produced by Valgeir Sigurdsson, who also worked with Björk and Bonnie Price Billy, hence perhaps the Icelandic connection. Muhly is classically trained composer, and still young of age, born, as the booklet notes, after the premiere of Steve Reich's 'Music For 18 Musicians' and Philip Glass' 'Music In Twelve Parts' - both composers are a major influence on him. The pieces on 'Speaks Volumes' are for small ensemble, and in one case even just the piano, but the interesting part of this album is in the production. Normally a classical record is about music, and not about how it was recorded, but here it seems that some mistakes were intentionally left in, and we hear the bow and not the violin, or perhaps in some instances both, which gives this a nice subtle effect, especially when it's not repeated too many times. The music of Muhly is minimal in approach, but moved away from the work of say phase shifting repetitions. Also Muhly's music is at times romantic in approach. Just a few days ago, before receiving this album I played 'Hommages' by Gavin Bryars, and there is some similarity between that record and Muhly's intimate, classical approach. The modern vagueness that evokes images of a blurry character. That may all sound a bit negative, but rest assured: it's not meant to be negative. Except for the closing piece 'Keep In Touch', with it's 'sound poetry', this is a highly evocative and beautiful album of classical music meeting pop. (FdW)


(CD by Bip Hop)
Despite the fact that Leo Abrahams played with Brian Eno, Ed Harcourt, Paul Simon, Grace Jones and Nick Cave, I never heard of him, means that I rarely stick my head out of the underground. Abrahams is a guitarist, arranger and producer, and 'Scene Memory' is his second solo CD (following his debut 'Honeytrap' in 2005 on Just Music) and deals with the guitar, played live, fed on the spot through a bunch of laptop effects. No sound processing took place afterwards. It's easy to link this approach to that of Fear Falls Burning, but Abrahams arrives at a totally different result. His tracks are much shorter than the epic pieces of Fear Falls Burning, and also a bit more opener. However both opt for a highly ambient approach in music and it seems to me that Eno has been a great influence on the music of Abrahams. The twelve pieces are sketch like, yet worked out enough to hold the attention and not think: 'oh that's a nice start, why does it end so soon' and refer to Eno's best works in ambient music, such as 'On Land' and 'Apollo'. There is in terms of real time processing enough variation to make this throughout a highly enjoyable album. Something can be done inside ambient and make it move a little bit more forward - Abrahams proofs that. It's exciting enough, moving far away from any new age traps, and let the experiment prevail, without losing structure or beauty. Great one. (FdW) Address:

(CD by Expanding Records)
Behind Orla Wren is one TUI, but that doesn't seem to be his real name either. He hails from the north of England and travels Scotland in his van, selling his photographs and making music - which seems to me to be a very romantic way of living, but nothing wrong with that, I guess. His music he makes in his small cottage. Seeing this being on Expanding Records, one could easily think what is on it, but that is only partly true. There is the true melancholy here of course, the stuttering of rhythms, but Orla Wren takes matters a bit further. Using real, acoustic instruments, such as the piano and the violin, he adds an extra layer of warmth to the material, making it more melancholic perhaps, but also it moves away from the more rigid approach of some of the other artists on Expanding. More reduced, more minimal, more held-back, this is a small step in the direction to change this kind of music, and that seems to me like a good thing. Away from the 'dance' scene, this is music to play at home, at night and enjoy some of the more sorrowful tunes on this CD. Night music. (FdW) Address:

Perhaps Vital Weekly reviewed most of the releases by the Greek Absurd label, and perhaps we are even good mates, but history wise I must admit that much is forgotten here. Apparently Absurd exists this month for ten years, coming out of the Harsh Dept label. Many activities, fanzines and releases have come from this house in Athens and it's sure hard to keep up. Somewhere in 2001, Absurd released a CDR by Elggren in a small edition called '45 Minutes
>From Underneath The Beds', which now, to celebrate the tenth anniversary (August 15th, mind you) is released as a real CD. In the liner notes Elggren explains his fascination for beds, and admits leaving drawings under people's beds, without them knowing he did that (I'd love to see him crawl under my bed on the floor, but he will surely have a difficult task at that). After a spoken word intro which is hard to follow, there is a some forty minutes of drone/noise which is something intercepted by what is some kind of squeaking sound, the nature of which is quite unclear to me. But it makes great sense in a way that this is more a performance piece than an independent piece of music - or at least that's what it seems. Also part of this disc are a couple of shorter tracks, which, if I'm not mistaken are the various sounds used in the piece (maybe a remix for the next anniversary?). Even without pictures or performances this makes a great release, a strong continuation of his own releases, previously on Firework Edition. (FdW)

TSUKIMONO - NEE (CD by Kalligrammofon)
Although Kalligrammofon says that 'Nee' is the debut album of Tsukimono, also known as Johan Gustavsson, Vital Weekly reviewed 'Sketches 1-6' in issue 387 and even then other release were mentioned. But alright, as far as real CDs go, this is indeed the debut. Gustavsson played also in bands such as Alina, Conduo Orcehstra and Scraps Of Tape - none of which I ever heard - and his 'work ranges from guitar improvisation, neoclassical composing through glitchmetal and laptop collagery', says the label. As Tsukimono his work is clearly laptop collagery. Taking real time played instruments and feeding that through various sorts of computer plug in effects, making a warm bath for them that is best described as glitch ambient. Still the influences by Fennesz or Mathieu (especially when Gustavsson plays a sad note) are clearly present here, and as such Tsukimono doesn't create anything new in that particular corner of music, he does a fine job in what he does, creating a fine album.  And that is something enough. (FdW)

From a country with a very lively music scene (but has not as hyped as their neighbor country), comes a new label for me, Kning Disk. "Kning Disk presents first-rate, limited editions and various kinds of presentations where innovative composers of yesteryear shares space with the kindred spirits of the groundbreaking artists, designers and writers of tomorrow". David Stackenäs's first CD was reviewed a mighty long time ago (Vital Weekly 251), where he did improvisations on his acoustic guitar. Here on 'Bow' he uses five acoustic guitars played with fans. On the Kning Disk website there is an image of the installation that this piece was. The fan make the snares vibrate, and by using five guitars with bodies, there is a massive amount of overtones. It's all very simple. It's all also highly effective and downright beautiful. Drone music for sure, but one of an acoustic nature, despite the motors of the fans, and that at the same time sounds highly electronic in approach. Drifting about, waving, flying into (your) space.  There is of course a line from say Phill Niblock to Rafael Toral to David Maranha, and loads of other people working in the same field, but here Stackenäs does a really fine job too. Nothing new, but simply very beautiful. Even without seeing the installation as such. (FdW)

About two years after his debut, also for Highpoint Lowlife (see Vital Weekly 424), Marshall Watson returns with a second album, 'Math And Other Word Problems'. Watson moved from New Orleans to Seattle and is DJ-ing around there, and crafting his own music. Stylistically nothing much seems to have changed here. Dubby rhythms, minimal techno like rhythms and a firm dose of ambient synths, the latter being a large dose. A bit of Cologne combined with a bit of Berlin, this is nice music, once again, that however didn't progress. With the previous CD I had the urge to play it again and continue cleaning the house. Something similar happened here, but it's a tad more ambient than before, so the urge to clean the house wasn't there, but rather sit back and enjoy that great book which you can't put aside. (FdW) Address:

BIP HOP GENERATION VOLUME 8 (CD compilation by Bip Hop)
The first six volumes of 'Bip-Hop Generation' were all quickly released, some years ago. It took more time to release number seven and now 'Volume 8' is released, also with a considerable gap. Why this is, I don't know. It seems there are enough great music projects out there that could fill future volumes. Of the six bands (there are always six, each with about ten to fifteen minutes of music), only one is less known, at least to me, which is Strings Of Consciousness, whereas the others have a well-known reputation, and each with a great deal of releases. Perhaps I didn't note this so much with the previous compilations, but it seems that here tracks were selected for their more or less acoustic character, however placed inside the digital environment. This works different ways, such as orchestral, dark samples by Murcof, various string instruments by Mitchell Akiyama, guitars with Minamo and the bigger ensemble of Strings Of Consciousness, who add harp, guitar, trumpet, saxophone and turntables and with TU M' a combination of all sorts. Only the slightly rhythm tracks by Tennis seem to fall a bit outside of this, but that is hardly a problem. It makes this throughout a very coherent compilation, showcasing some of the best talent in this field. (FdW) Address:

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