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Vital Weekly 548

img  Tobias

When the CD arrived on the market, there wasn't much interesting music to buy, I thought. One day I bumped into a CD single of Greater Than One, 'I Don't Need God', and I saw them perhaps one or two years before that, and as I was determined to buy something that day, I bought it. In fact it was CD player favorite for a while. In years to come I bought most of their records, although I wouldn't consider myself a big fan. I just very much liked the sampling style. Loading techno related music with all those crazy spoken word samples and classical tunes. Whatever happened after Greater Than One (Technohead for instance) couldn't interest me very much. My colleague at the illegal radio station knew them personally and I'm sure he played 'Kill The Pedagogue' when it was released. It was a cassette only release, which they put out themselves, following 'Lay Your Penis Down', also a cassette only. It shows Greater Than One in a embryonically stage: rhythms are there, but also distorted voices, echo machines and guitars. Sampling at a very primitive stage, inspired (perhaps) by such likes of 400 Blows or Portion Control. It's a rough edged sound, but now, twenty one years later, it still stands. Slightly connected to industrial music it forecasts their later refined style. Since the original cassette wasn't that long, the lovely Brainwashed mob added a whole bunch of MP3s, including 'Lay Down Your Penis' and tracks of 'Dance Of The Cowards' and other rarities and a whole bunch of photos (courtesy of Robin Rimbaud and Howard Stelzer). Now that's what I call value for money and a perfect example of how to re-issue. May I humble ask for a re-issue of their entire catalogue on CD? Thank you.
On the same label is also a new work by Thighpaulsandra, who was once a member of Coil, Spiritualized, Julian Cope's Band, Queen Elizabeth and who played on a lot more albums, but also has a couple of solo records. 'The Lepore Extrusion' is the music to an interactive video installation by New York based visual artists Daniel McKernan called 'Is Evolution Evil', featuring the world's #1 transsexual, Amanda Lepore (ok that last I bit I took from the press text, since it didn't mean much to me). The good thing that here too the CDRom contains the video and other working plans for the installation. The music of Thighpaulsandra is just one piece of forty-five minutes for synthesizers and electronics. And you bet these are real, old analogue beasts of machines, producing a highly cosmic sound of gliding tones, square waves and whatever sines possible. It's a beautiful work, even without seeing the installation itself, of space synth music of perhaps not always a too original kind, but it's surely a great work. (FdW)

When in 1998 OR released the very first commercially available minidisc by Gescom it caused a minor ripple. Autechre/Gescom fans no doubt bit their lip for having to buy it, perhaps without owning a minidisc. The advantages of the mini disc back then seemed great: to be able to loop tracks, play in shuffle, reorganize the order etc. Add to this the possibilities that Gescom were offering with their music, making it possible to use the small blocks (88 tracks were delivered in total) in your own DJ set, it may still be a surprise why this wasn't followed much more. One reason might of course be the fact that MP3 were already lurking around the corner, and perhaps also the fact that not everybody wanted to invest in yet another device. I still have a mini disc player, but one of the first things I did in 1998 with the Gescom mini disc was to burn it to CDR (another great new gadget back then, with the prices dropping dramatically) because it was so much easier to play on the train. Now it is available again, on CD. Regular market wins? Well, releasing CDs on LPs or vice versa is common practice too, so why not this? For those who missed out first time around, or whose CDR worn out (me, me), this is another great opportunity to play around with the sounds. Of course the CDR doesn't loop that well, but the information can much be ripped from it. Gescom stays away from the beat oriented stuff, and plays around with more noise related, computer abusing sort of material. Not dissimilar to the work of Pita or Farmers Manual, it is perhaps too much common ground these days, but it still sound great. Great to see this on CD! (FdW) Address:

VERDE - LEGENDA (CD by Musically Incorrect Records)
This is the second CD by Verde, also known as Mika Rintala (formerly of Circle and Ektroverde, Finland's answer to Tortoise), following some CDR only releases. His previous CD 'Vuoronumero' was pretty much alright (see Vital Weekly 432), not brilliant, but quite nice indeed. The press text of this CD is quite ambitious: it sees this CD as a logical continuum to 1960s and 1970s wild electronic experiments, krautrock, the golden era of Pink Floyd, Nurse With Wound and Throbbing Gristle. That sound all most promising: the exciting years of music for those over forty who stopped listening to anything else after 1985. I am not sure if Rintala heard anything after that, but he indeed makes all the expectations from the press blurb come through. There is the krautrock as played by Nurse With Wound, guitar psychedelics of Ash Ra Temple, synthlines of anything analogue, collated together with baby sounds, people talking, field recordings, cut ups from improvised pieces of music with horns and more such like. Cosey's guitar playing is also dully copied. I must say that I had some problem with this release. I can see all the beautiful points of reference, but Verde is a bit too much of a freak-out for me. He plays his material on end, with no built up, break down, tension curve, structure or dynamics. It seems as if it was all smeared to tape without taking too much notice of anything else. Nine tracks here, spanning almost a good, solid eighty minutes, whereas with some editing the CD could have been brilliant and genius and probably half the length. Perhaps Rintala is indeed the madman, but not the genius that say Steve Stapleton is. (FdW) Address:

Joachim Nordwall was born in 1975 and started playing music in 1987 as the Alvers Orkester, so then he was thirteen... His releases were on the Swedish Börft label (and in 2006 they even had a great album on Ash International, see Vital Weekly 512). From 1998 to 2005 he was a member of Kid Commando, 'an avant punk rock trio' and also in 1998 he started the iDEAL organisation, responsible for some fine releases and a festival. As The Idealist he plays solo music, and so strangely enough 'I Am The Fire' is his debut CD. I imagine that if you play this ultra soft, it would be indeed ambient music, but the atmospherics captured by Nordwall are all together of a much different kind. It's as beautiful as it also painful, at the same time. Powerful drone music that won't lull the listener into a deep sleep, but make the hairs on your back rise up. Intense music that defies genres, belonging partly to industrial music and partly drone/ambient, but is just right on.
The name Robert Horton popped up, for me at least, some where in the mid-eighties when I got some compilation cassette with a beautiful saxophone piece, with organs and drums by Plateau (if I all remember this well, since I don't recall which tape it was). Horton was the main member of Plateau. Back then we were a bit in touch, but not for the last fifteen years or so.
From the mid 90s to 2004 he spent his time indoing anti-racism educational groups called the Untraining, and maintaining to record his music, without releasing any. Since then he has released a whole bunch of stuff on a whole bunch of labels. Dax Pierson is new to me, but he is apparently a member of Subtle and of 13&God. Together they recorded this work, which is a homage to Augustus Pablo, Morton Feldman, Sun Ra and Terry Riley - each a big city in it's own field. Dax plays melodica, just as Pablo, as well as Dr Sample and mono synth, Horton plays boot feedback circuit, voice, computer, tape guitar, guitar and khaen and receive help from various players on cello and vocals. The seven pieces here are best described as drone music, but one of a more extraordinary kind. Sounds swirl around from endless layers of melodica, gliding cello sounds and warped up vocalizations. It's a kind of drone music that is closer to the traditional Indian version (less the drums) then to the Mirror/Ora/Monos variations of this world, and as such is much enjoyable. Great release! (FdW) Address:

JIM HAYNES  - TELEGRAPHY BY THE SEA (CD by Helen Scarsdale Agency)
It's difficult to write a review on something Jim Haynes made and not mention that publication he works for, reviewing music from outer limits. He has also worked for the well-stocked Aquarius Records in San Francisco, and the Helen Scarsdale Agency (which is really a label, rather than an agency). Despite his appearance on a CD along with M.S. Waldron, R.K. Faulhaber, Steve Stapleton and Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson (on the same the label, but unheard by me), this is my first encounter with his work. Haynes worked on this for some, using sounds he recorded at an exhibition in Melbourne and a six-hour concert in New York. His interest lies in sounds from the electro magnetic and meteorological phenomena, captured through perhaps the most obscure forms of field recordings. Stuck away into a fine lump of sound somewhere on a harddisc, and treated with god knows how many effects. Or perhaps not, really. We don't know. As for influences, it's not difficult to trace them back to the likes of John Duncan, C.M. von Hauswolff but above and beyond all The Hafler Trio. One epic track of almost an hour (another Haflerian ploy), Haynes takes the listener to the heights and depths of his sound world. Maybe not the most original thing in the world, but then what is, these days? He produced a great work, with an excellent ear for all the different subtleties that his material offers.
On the same Helen Scarsdale Agency label the second collaboration between B.J. Nilsen and Stillupsteypa. One perhaps wondered if the latter were still around, because the last thing we heard was the previous work with Nilsen (see Vital Weekly 460) and again alcohol abuse in the Scandinavian territory is the main theme here. It's a firm continuation of the previous album. Using also field recordings this is much along similar lines of the Jim Haynes album and far away from the last thing we heard from Stillupsteypa (which was close to being a disco band). A winter landscape, frozen roads, empty swirling through a desolate country is what is on this album. They captured the stale wind and put it to music. If the term Isolationist music hadn't been invented before, it should be done for this album. Droning landscapes, quietly humming, and even at times using a faint trace of a melody, such as in 'Undir Ahrifum/Sunderlaus' (all credits are in Swedish and Icelandic - two entirely different languages) with something that might very well a guitar. And sometimes it seems nothing is happening at all, such a breeze, such as in 'Supbröder/Drykkjufelagar', humming quietly. This album is a great one, excellently produced, but perhaps not holding something that is entirely new to the world of electronic music, but rather carries on a tradition, which sometimes is fair enough. (FdW) Address:

LGAMBLE - 0!1!0 (3"CD by Entr'acte)
Slowly Entr'acte is growing beyond the CDR only business. They already released a LP by Esther Venrooy, and soon one by Shifts and a 7" by Idea Fire Company and now also their first real 3"CD. Quite a surprise that it's hardly someone we know, or at least I hardly know. One Lee Gamble is responsible here for 'seven virtual-hybryd models of spontaneous and ordered (non-essential goal) related celomund 0!1!0'. Computer music that is, 'culled from live and studio recordings between 1999 and 2006. If we wouldn't know that Lee Gamble hailed from the UK, we could suspect him of living in Vienna. His radical computer music might as easily been released on Mego, perhaps a few years earlier than this. Having seen and heard Florian Hecker a few weeks ago at the lovely Earational festival, I can easily compare their work: strict stereo separations, heavy load of short sounds being looped around and changing through a piece. As such the work of Lgamble might be nothing new under the digital sun, but I found it altogether a pretty strong release. Short and powerful, with not a second too much of music. That is the way we like those things. Thumbs up!
On the more conventional format we find a likewise unknown British composer and sculptor Simon Whetham. He has had a release before on the online Filament label, even when he has been creating music for twenty years. During a trip in to the Portes du Soleil region in France he made the source recordings for this release, more in particular cable cars. Apparently minimally processed, which I find hard to believe. I have travelled up in the mountains, always taking a cable car, lazy soab that I am, but also because of the sound involved. The mechanics that are there for quite some time making the rusty sounds and on a good day with some fresh wind, this is a nice way to spend your time. So for me common territory, more or less (I wasn't in the same area as Simon), and I must say I heard his work with some fascination. He cleverly repeats lengthy blocks of sounds, thus creating the illusion of a trip, with occasional bumps along the ride. Field recordings with just a little bit of procession, but with a high amount of imagination. One wants to go on holiday straight away! (FdW) Address:

'Ritualistic and tribal post-punk folk dreamweavers': that is how the Refrigerator Mothers call themselves. It's a loosely organized collective of over twenty participants, including musicians (of course I'd say), visual artists, film makers, business owners, dancers 'and much more' (mothers perhaps?), and together they have a whole array of instruments at their disposal: from analogue synthesizers to guitars, prepared guitars and piano, but also frame drum, floor tom, various cymbals and bells and the kitchen sink. I assume that their material is conceived during lengthy jams which are then cut to shape. They also have a 7" out called 'Arab National Anthem', which along with the b-side can also be found on this CDR release (for reasons not entirely clear to me), and that might show some of their love for love for middle-eastern sounding, tribal percussion and vocal chanting. Ever since Muslimgauze picked up a tabla and played too much, I can't hear a tabla without thinking of Muslimgauze, which makes I have some problem with this too. But the Refrigerator Mothers get the benefit of the doubt from me. Their addition of a whole blend of other instruments makes this into something that is wholly more enjoyable than the more single minded Muslimgauze. Their freaking sound goes out into the directions of No Neck Blues Band at times, but with a slight touch of arabic sound. Quite a great release of improvised music in something that might very well be considered their own sound. (FdW) Address:

When I opened this parcel containing five CDRs, I thought it was send by Tib prod. Same kind of packaging (computer design, plastic sleeves) and similar artists (Carl Kruger, Staplerfahrer, Guignol Dangereux), but it is really a different label, albeit from Norway (Trondheim), and they call themselves 'some sort of label or something' and are closely connected to the nice venue in that city Klubb Kanin. As said, some artists sound familiar, like Guignol Dangereux, who share their piece with five studio pieces by Swamps Up Nostrils (who were also on Tib Prod), which is one Arnfinn Killingtveit, aka Helmetricon, Synkopat or Malebarisk, and also the guy who runs the Krakilsk label. The five pieces continue where we left S.U.N. in Vital Weekly 459: technoid music, with industrial influences, but also some quieter moments, but still not every moment is convincing. Guignol Dangereux, whose main stream of releases comes from Tib Prod (under which ever banner he works), but his long piece of hard techno works quite well. It bangs and booms, four to the floor, with nasty, mean little synthesizer sounds to support it.
From The Netherlands hails Staplerfahrer, whose 'Crusades' was recorded in an abandoned and squatted church that was to be evicted and make space for office buildings. Despite Staplerfahrer's concert, the evication went ahead. Since some years active behind his laptop, Staplerfahrer has grown quite a lot since then his early days. Away from the simple, straight forward rhythm and noise, he plays here a piece of what I assume to be an all improvised set of music, which make a fine combination of vaguely humming drones (organs? processed guitar sounds?) and scratchy rhythms and a bit of noise. Quite a nice combination of sorts, displaying a wide interest in sound processing.
Of a more conceptual nature is the release by Carl Kruger and Josh Brown. They have no less (or rather no more: a CDR can't have more than this) ninety-nine tracks of twenty second pieces of music. Distorted, computerized, noise, disturbance, static, hiss, drones, glitches, cracks, mayhem. You can play this at repeat and random, as suggested on the cover, but you could wonder why. Maybe it's a nice idea to copy some of your favorite tracks to your computer and create some nice music with it. I view it rather as a catalogue of sounds than as a great product of music value.
Carl Kruger, again known from releases on Tib Prod, has also a solo release here. In his solo music he continues what he does with his release with Josh Brown, except that he tries to make music with all the glitch sources. His love extends to the more rougher and noisier material found inside the defaults of machinery and software. Like before he creates sound collages with the material that aren't always easy to follow, but who said things should be easy. Some of the pieces are bit long and not every moment is great, but in terms of noise going a different direction, this is quite alright. Noise meets musique concrete and microsound becomes macrosound.
The last one is by the unknown duo, at least for me, Darph/nadeR. I have no idea where they are from, but their release was quite a puzzle. Within a track they can skip of fucked popmusic with vocals to something in the limits of outer noise. Certainly outsider music of people that definitely want to do whatever they see fit, inside a track or for the an album as a whole. Having said that, I sort of grasp what this about, but not necessarily makes me liking this very music. The pieces are too long, too chaotic and don't seem to go anywhere. Just not my thing really. (FdW) Address:

In years to come I think we will see more and more music that will fit the pages of Vital Weekly very well from exotic countries. By now Argentina is no longer a 'strange' and 'exotic' country anymore, due to the likes of Reynols. Rruido is a small Argentinean label that releases 'experimental, improv and noise music in cdr and mcdr format'. The label believes in exchange of music and projects, exporting their, importing yours, thus avoiding the hard cash that the country lacks. The label started in May 2006 by Jose de Diego, who plays on two of the three releases here. First is a duo of Barzabal and De Diego, recorded at the Centro Cultural Islas Malvinas, which to some other people are known as the Falklands. Three very long improvised cuts of guitars and percussive sounds. The guitars are 'prepared' with all sorts of metallic junk, feeding through effects. In total seventy-six minutes of freaking out, which might have served better when it was edited a bit more. Now everything is there, including moments of searching for the interesting sound, which sadly brings in boredom. Cutting out these moments wouldn't have been a bad thought, me thinks, as there are certainly other moments in which some tension can be heard.
Of much more interest is De Diego's solo mini CDR which uses guitar and computer.   I assume he recorded his guitar sounds to his computer and from there on started to manipulate them. Some of the more harsher parts sounded a bit too simple in terms of overloading the computer and time stretching, but the quieter moments here, in which the guitar has a saying too, sounded very nice, especially in the hissy last track.
The best release of the three is however from a Russian musician living in New York: Grundik Kasyansky. He had releases on State Art (see Vital Weekly 424) and Creative Sources Recordings (see Vital Weekly 530). His instruments include a computer, small theremin, radios and feedback synthesizer, although he limits himself to the latter here. Recorded on December 28th last year, he plays some ultra soft music. Soft peeps with lots of silence in between. If you put the volume all the way up, you may even hear much more sounds that aren't unlike insects or bugs in your room. Quite an intense release, this one. (FdW)

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

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