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Vital Weekly 544

img  Tobias

These three new releases on Home Tapes, which is hardly a tape label, but a 'real' label releasing 'real' CDs and LPs, all share something in common: rock music, although worked out in different directions. Feathers for instance is a rock trio from Miami, consisting of Eddie Alonso, Matt Crum and Eric Rasco. Rarely leaving Miami, they did and went to Chicago to record with John McEntire of Tortoise fame as their producer and inviting a bunch of musicians to play along. This adds to their own line up of keyboards, synths, guitar, drums, vibes, marimba's and bass guitar, also violin, viola, sid station and pro dgx (whatever that might be). 'Synchromy' is their second EP for Home Tapes, following 'Absolute Noon' (see Vital Weekly 478), and sees a continuation of the post rock inspired psychedelic music. Highly retro sounding, Tortoise like post-rock/post-jazz-rock/jazz rock, but it's unmistakably a fine EP, with some cheerful tunes played on a bunch of analogue keyboards for that even more ultra retro sound. Quite nice.
For 'Canonic', one Scott Solter takes apart the recordings of Pattern Is Movement. The latter is a four piece band of bass, drums, guitars, keyboards, voice and percussion. For whatever reason unclear to me, the recordings they made where handed over Scott Solter, who is an engineer, who has worked with Vanderslice, Spoon, The Mountain Goats, Two Gallants and Tarentel, as well as the fact that he produced a couple of his own records. On the promotional copy (of which it's unclear wether it's going to be released, I think so, why bother to send out promo's around) there are three of Solter's remixes and three originals. Solter seems to be taking everything apart, filtering it through a bunch of analogue synthesizers, but throughout keeps the drums and bass very much alive. A heavy form of dub music is the outcome, sounding massive. In the three pieces by Pattern Is Movement things sound more traditionally post rock with vocals (which sound a bit Thom Yorke like) and an occasional weird sound, which is just isn't weird enough to make a huge difference.
Shedding's debut 12" 'Now I'm Shedding' was reviewed in Vital Weekly 409 is a far cry from his new record 'What God Doesn't Bless, You Won't Love, What You Don't Love, The Child Won't Know'. The 12" was electronic, Oval inspired, but this new one uses 'electronics and bass guitar' and drums on one track. The bass and drums sound fairly traditional here. Highly minimal too. The electronic part consists of many sampled flute like sounds (Shedding being highly influenced by jazz legend Eric Dolphy here). 'W' is a long piece of these swirling flute sounds with the heavy pounding drums under neath. Very psychedelic, almost in an early krautrock/Faust tradition. The other two pieces are layered affairs of cello sounds and highly obscured forms of computer processing. Very nice again, and certainly moving in new directions. (FdW) Address:

Keiichi Sugimoto is a busy man. He's a member of Minamo, has a pop outfit under the banner of Filfa and works as Fourcolor. As such he delivers his second release for 12K, following 'Air Curtain' (Vital Weekly 437) and 'Water Mirror' on Apestaartje (see Vital Weekly 430). Sugimoto is a man who loves his guitar as well as loving his computer. The eight pieces captured here all display that love, but it moves away from the more ambient spacious nature of his previous work. The guitar is sampled into shorter frames, creating shorter blocks of rhythm and even adds a rhythm in 'Flyaway'. Still spacious stuff, and still warm as campfire. A fine release? Yes, a fine release, but that is only in as much as to the actual music and the production. If you are looking for something new to happen in the field of microsound than I must say I am somewhat disappointed. Sugimoto may move away from his own previous sound, but it still stays firmly inside whatever else is known in this kind of music. That is a pity. Time to make new waves in this music.
On 12K's sub-division Line we find also a second release, this time by Steinbrüchel. Somewhere somewhat I also think of Steinbrüchel as a too much ignored musician, despite his output so far, and which runs back a few years, when he released records that could have been genre defining as Pan Sonic, but which we sadly ignored. The work on 'Stage' is indeed for stage: it was composed in 2005 for the interactive dance performance Hybridome, produced by Avventure In Elicoterro Prodotti. For the first time, Steinbrüchel takes sounds from piano (played by Bernd Schurer) and guitar (played by Thomas Korber), but they are hard to recognize. This new work is, if anything, a masterful introduction to the work of Steinbrüchel and if you have never experienced real microsound music, then this is the place to start. Tones glides by, sounds forming small particles, looping gently around, cracks come alive and in all is a densely layered, but warm affair. A fine release? Yes, a fine release and then much of what is said about Sugimoto above should be repeated.  (FdW) Address:


Pretty clueless right at this point where Noble Records finds all these Japanese people creating music that is not exactly the same, but surely have strong ties to each other. Here it's one Midori Hirano, who made her debut on a Luxemburg label in 2004 and since then worked on 'LushRush', her debut album. Hirano plays piano and sings and gets help from various Japanese musicians such as Toshiko Kageyama on acoustic guitar and Atsuko Hatano on cello and violin. As said it sounds a lot like other releases on Noble Records, but there are differences. The most important difference is that Hirano may use a bit of sampling or computer treatments, it's however not what this album is about. It seems to me that Hirano is much more interested in the acoustic qualities of the music. However it's all soft and melodic. It's hard to tell what the songs are all about, since neither text nor titles may mean much to me, but they create a sense of melancholy through it's whispering character. Inside the world of women singing and computer assistance to create a melancholically sound, Hirano is the one that may sound the same, but on the other hand does something that is strongly of her own. And that is the most important thing about this album. (FdW) Address:

The Danish word 'och' means 'and', so Jab Mica Och El means, Jab Mica and El, who created the music on 'ABC Hej I'm Cola', following a 7" on their own Champion Robot label, together with a whole bunch of friends, such as Sun OK Papi K.O. (Scratch Pet Land). It's a strange affair, these ten tracks. Played on banjo, flutes and tuba and no doubt a whole bunch of computer treatments, this remains a fun affair. Cheerful naive, almost childish sounding, this is however excellently produced. There is a straight line running from say Renaldo & The Loaf to Scratch Pet Land into the German way of doing these things: from Der Plan, Andreas Dorau to Sack Ziegler and F.S. Blumm. Sometimes very cartoon like, even Spike Jones, this is largely a funny release that is very well made. Maybe even at this modest length (mere forty minutes), I can imagine that the tracks may work on the nerves a little bit, that all the tuba, banjo and flute sounds get a bit too much, but it's very fine release throughout. (FdW) Address:

GAGARIN - ARD NEV (CD by Geo Records)
There are various ways to approach this for a review: I could tell who Gagarin is, and go from there, or the other way round: first tell something about the music and then, as a jac-in-the-box tell about Gagarin. I choose the first, for spoilers. Gagarin is the latest incarnation of Graham Dowdall, also known as Dids, and in my book that means: the drummer of Ludus, of whom I was buying 7"s in the early 80s. I have no idea what happened in between those 7"s and Gagarin, but apparently he stayed inside music, making music for theatre, dance and TV as well as teaching about making music. And since several years playing as Gagarin, doing remixes for Pere Ubu and supporting them on their forthcoming European tour. Ludus fans (like me) will be shocked to hear Gagarin, as in nothing it sounds like Ludus (a free punk/jazz/pop combo). Gagarin plays synthesizers and drum machines and creates as such highly moody electronic music, which is never far away from the likes on Expanding Records or Highpoint Lowlife. Highly melodic, highly moody and melancholic. It stands clear in a tradition but not clear in the background of Dowdall. He created however a great album, that may not be entirely original for what it is, but it's very well crafted and produced, and is, again for the artist, something really new. (FdW) Address:

Three new names for me, all hailing from the city of Khabarovsk, far east Russia (and known to mankind for the LP that Merzbow recorded there). Gorbunov is known for his project Matsutake. The three of them recorded this album together in various combinations, although there are also three solo tracks to be spotted. It is throughout quite a strange affair: we hear jew harps, jazzy improvisations on the guitar and various crackles and statics from synthesizers and sauced by perhaps the processing inside in the computer. Overall the feel of this music is improvised, sketchy at times, but quite full at other occasions. It may reflect the emptiness found in Siberia, the desolation and isolation that can work suffocating, but also liberating at times. The combination of styles and people performing this makes this guaranteed a lively affair. Quite odd, but surely captivating. (FdW)

HERV - CUSTOMER (CDR by Go Away Recordings)
THE LAST SOUND - 1MEYES (CDR by Go Away Recordings)
Music released by Irish Go Away Recordings deal with the electronic kind, and is usually uptempo, broken up and fucked up. But the introduction track on 'Cutsomer' by Herv is a nice electronic string quartet. 'Customer' is Herv' third CD following 'Snap Hands' and 'Introduction To Synthesizers' (the latter reviewed in Vital Weekly 488) and here Herv, aka Ewan Hennelly, continues to work with gameboys and laptops, and in general it sounds truly fucked up again, with breakbeat spattering all over the place, but there are moments of warmth and refines, such as in 'Dissolve', with it's accordion sounds. Thus Herv created an album that is well beyond the standard of breakbeat and gabba core music, but something that is also well enjoyable for the more adventurous lover of electronic music, especially techno (and related) musics. Me personally I do like breakbeat in it's purest form only when served in little amounts, but Herv is the positive exception: love it all!
I never heard of The Last Sound, a project since 1997 by one Barry Murphy. Apparently he is influenced by progressive rock as much as electronics, and he uses computers to create his sound. The Last Sound uses hardly any signs of breakbeat or gabbacore, but moves around in the world of ambient techno, but the synthesizer parts in this music do remind me indeed of some rather dubious progressive rock music. I must admit the music by The Last Sound didn't really grab me, it was too laidback at one point but perhaps too chaotic at other times in a, again, prog-rock manner. Pieces were a bit too long and too single minded to be really interesting throughout. Sort of ok as background music, but not really engaging enough for me. (FdW)

A time travel...! Italian composer Damiano Mercuri has since 2002 been active under the project name "Rose Rovince E Amanti". Having previously released two CDR's and a CD-Ep this album titled "Rituale Romanum" is the first proper full-length release of Rose Rovince E Amanti. With the help of a great musical talent and with the appearance of guest musicians counting Pamela Gargiuto and Josef K just to name a few, Damiano Mercuri brings the listener from the present day of electronic music expressions back into the ancient days of Roman empire with a superb blend of neo-folk and neo-classical added a few doses of industrial and drone-based rock. There is a quite pleasant atmosphere of tranquillity throughout the ten compositions meanwhile each track contains its very own dramatic style of middle age expression. Dominating elements in the music is the soothing acoustic guitar strums and the ever-grand vocals of Damiano Mercuri reminiscent of Brendan Perry (Dead Can Dance). But the real strength of "Rituale romanum" is its wide range of instruments being utilized throughout the 50+ minutes running time, counting mandolins, violins and beautiful song voices from among others Pamela Garguinto. A radical change of expression comes in the second last track titled "Adorazione dell'Europa" as the gentle tune suddenly gets interrupted by a moment of wrath. This little intervention comes as an unexpected and a very effective surprise since the previous tracks have been almost exclusively kept in the downbeat moody and tranquilizing pace. Fortunately the listener are safely returned back to the gentle sound spheres with the beautiful album closer, the ten minute long "Aachen (Holy Roman Imperium)" featuring some heavenly French vocals and some spoken words by Josef K - an otherworldly ending to a magnificent album of ancient beauty. (Niels Mark Pedersen) Address:

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

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