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Vital Weekly 549

img  Tobias

And Daniel Menche is ready to conquer the world with his music. Like some people want releases on every CDR label in the world, it seems that Menche wants the same, but then on CDs. His recent production flow is the biggest ever, but he knows how to surprise us. Here the music is dedicated to beasts, rather than gods, like it was perhaps done in very, very ancient times (although we can't be certain, right?). Although separated into three tracks, this makes one continuous track and the beats (not the beasts) play the main role. It's difficult to say what kind of drums Menche is using, but certainly it's whatever without cymbals. Perhaps plastic canisters or oil drums which he uses to roll his beats over in an indeed tribal manner. Electronic treatment is there (the use of delay and a bit of reverb) but doesn't play the same role as before. It's a strikingly minimal affair on the surface of listening, but upon closer inspection, which is of course one should always do, things move and shift about like hell. Metallic rattle is somewhere coming in and out, beats shift about in a good Steve Reich like manner. But at the same time the name of Z'EV comes to mind also in his 80s percussive periods. This is a highly unlikely but great Menche release, and as such proving once more his great talent to take the listener by surprise. (FdW) Address:

As noted in Vital Weekly 543, Z'EV is a busy man, and already announced then, but now released is his collaborative work with Francisco Lopez (on the resurrected Black Rose label, in collaboration with Lapilli). Lopez more than Z'EV, but both are avid collectors of sound material from the world that surrounds us. Lopez is the man with the microphone, while Z'EV does that too, but he also is on the look out for material to play his percussive music on. Throughout Z'EV's career percussion music has played an important role, but the studio has had a likewise big role in his work. Using the studio (no doubt a harddisc these days) to its extreme, using as many tracks as possible to make subtle shifts and changing patterns throughout the piece. Perhaps the opposite of how Francisco Lopez: using sometimes just one or two sound sources and exploring them through radical equalization. Before he did this using a very low audible range for his music, but lately he has shifted towards audible material, but in cut-up/collage way. Here it is no different. The sound sources of both are presented in a strong collage form, in which loud/soft material, sometimes with smaller blocks of silence in between them. A very intense piece of music. In the five pieces by Z'EV things stay throughout on a more equal level, in which sounds seem to shift and phase along side each other. The whole thing, rather one piece in five blocks than five separate pieces makes a highly psychedelic pattern of sounds moving in and out of phase. Two sides of the coin called field recordings and both sides, even when so different, are equally great. Powerful, intense and illusionary. Great stuff. (FdW)

(CD on Belief Recordings)
Started in 1991 and from 1998 to 2005 having 'a short break'. That is half the half the time of the entire career. The last thing that was reviewed was 'Living Without Feeling' (Vital Weekly 138) on Absurd. Mlehst released before a whole bunch of CDRs and cassettes, three LPs, three split LPs and three singles. Although Mlehst had ties to the world of noise music, and on this new CD this is not different, it's the kind of noise in which something more is happening. His previous, final, release before the track showed an interest in the more experimental side of noise music, but this new one is a return to noise. Updating his equipment into the world of digital sound recording, he creates powerful fields of processed feedback material that is quite powerful, quite raw but in contrast with many other noise artists, Mlehst is a much more playful noise artist, coming more introspective moments into the harsher field with apparent no trouble. That makes this into quite an enjoyable CD and a great come-back CD. (FdW)

So far Australia's Naturestrip has released only a handful of CDs, and usually by people I already knew, such as Toshiya Tsunoda or Loren Chasse. Here however they present two unknown musicians from down under, Brisbane to be precise. Carcheso released a bunch of cassettes since the early 80s as D.N.E. and also the work of Craig on his own Kindling label didn't receive much attention. Both are also part of the  "freely improvising psych-primitive ensemble "The Lost Domain", and has had a couple of releases on Pseudo Arcana, Digitalis and Broken Face. 'Leaves' is their first duo recording and was previously released in an edition of thirty copies on Kindling. 'Leaves' was recorded on 'windy summer day' in 2004, and that information is vital to know, since the sat down in Craig's backyard to record this, armed with a whole bunch of objects to create music: keyboards, sticks, guitars, chime balls, violin, finger cymbals, toy xylophone, bottles, clarinet, but there is also the sound of the wind, crows and cicadas. Upon hearing this CD it's not difficult to see them sitting in the garden and see them loosely improvise their music. Plucking a guitar, playing a bit of xylophone and let the tranquility of the moment do the rest - listen to the environment and let that act as a third, equal player. Very peaceful music, quiet and relaxing, but not in a microsounding sense of the word: there is something to hear throughout these recordings. Music and nature never worked this closely together and not as often in such a beautiful way. (FdW)

I believe this is my first encounter with guitar player Gary Smith, even when his first recordings seem to date back to 1978, which were with the Bill Fay Group. Smith has produced a great deal of solo CDs for labels such as Impetus, FMR, Paratactile, Ecstatic Peace and Chronoscope, and has recorded CDs with John Stevens, Mass, Rhys Chatham, Powerfield, Shoji Hano, Aufgehoben No Process and Mukai Chie. Here my first encounter, a double CD right away. The first disc contains thirteen improvisations for 'guitar, amp, volume pedal. that's it', no overdubs, no effects or other tricks. Just his hands and the guitar, playing some fine tunes in which a lot happens. Smith takes the guitar for what it is, a guitar and not an object that also produces some sound. The guitar is always recognizable as such, despite his crazy way of playing it. Out of the apparent chaos rises small textures, short frenetic rhythms and delightful mayhem. Mayhem as in mayhem, not as in noise for noise sake. It's clear that he likes to play his guitar. Thirteen of these improvisations might be a bit long, but I suggest taking a small dose at a time. And people love Gary Smith, since the second CD is filled with 'treatments and interpretations' by certainly not the least in the field: from Charles Hayward to David Tibet, from Peter Rehberg to Elliot Sharp. This is not a regular remix CD in the traditional (?) way, but rather a mixed bunch of music involving the sounds produced by Gary Smith. Some take this material to expand upon, such as Sharp (with extra guitar), vocals (such as Tibet) or inside techno music (Tom Wallace), while others take the material to create new music, say the traditional forms of remixing, such as is the case with people like Paulo Raposo, Peter Rehberg or BJ Nilsen. Here the guitar is hardly to recognized as such and is a mere brick as part of a larger composition. It's this combination of pure remixes and adding extra musical treatments that makes this into a project that is indeed much more than 'just' another remix CD. (FdW) Address:

As announced last week, Entr'acte will release more than just CDRs in the future, and this LP is another example of what is to come. The cover of this record (in a sealed off bag just like so many of Entr'acte releases) explains in detail what DJ Ordeal is about. He likes to play around with sources lifted of records, and creates new musical contexts for them. Both sides are connected. To start with the b-side for once. 'Seagull' is a piece created by various vocal riffs of records and speeding the sound up so that it sounds like a seagull, or rather a flock of seagulls (pun intended). Moving the sound back and forth, using strict stereo separation, he creates a simple but fascinating piece of minimal music. Bird like indeed, but clearly artificial ones. A simple concept but nicely executed.
'Sea' on the other side uses real seagull sounds, along with sea waves breaking the shores and some vaguely cello like music and additional voices. Here too minimalism is at work, but in an extended way. The sea waves sound almighty and seagulls, voices and cello make random entrance and exit. Although less conceptual, it's carried out with care and reflects a day at the boulevard: birds, sounds from coming an open window and people talking. Farewell to summertime. (FdW) Address:

Elsewhere I sing praise of 7"s and one of the label with a more than solid reputation to releasing this format is UK's Static Caravan. And on it we see the return of Füxa, at least a return to me. In the past I liked them quite a bit, with their post-psychedelic sound, which after all these years is still in great shape. The a-side is a great piece. Pushy, electric rhythm, organ sounds, synths, bass lines and a desolate tone or two on the flugahorn. Indeed the (or rather THE) electric sound of summer. Great tune. Randall Nieman, the main man behind Füxa plays solo on the b-side: piano, bass and korg electribe. A more introvert tune with the piano taking the lead. I am not that well in knowing my spirituals, but perhaps it's an adaption of some holy tune, and as such as it sounds indeed in praise of someone called Jesus. Two different sides, but both nicely done and each playing their card well.
The second 7" deals with covers. Modified Toy Orchestra covers 'Pocket Calculator' by Kraftwerk and ZX Spectrum Orchestra does 'TVOD' by The Normal. Two classic synth songs, well chosen, me thinks. However Modified Toy Orchestra stays quite close to the original, changing just a bit in the rhythm part of the song and emphasizing the break a bit longer. ZX Spectrum Orchestra (named after an ancient computer program that was stored on cassettes) sort of makes the original even more creepier, but they too stay perhaps a bit too close to the original. Spin this next to the original and then this, and create your own megamix (to use a term from the past). (FdW) Address:

FEEDBACK SOCIETY - #0.02 (CDR, private)
The format of a 7" is always well-spend on me, and that is perhaps because I am an old guy. As a child they were the only music I could afford, so I still cherish people who release 7"s, and certainly when they call their label Seven Inch Records. They are from The Hague, and want to specialize in the more forceful, louder music. Their first release is by someone who calls himself Johnny Locash. On 'Hing' he plays a rather old fashioned slab of industrial music, with a strong atmospheric synthesizer that could be of an old Schloss Tegal record, and some mumbling voices and some distorted slow rhythm at the beginning. 'Kenctuckyfuck' on the other side is a more uptempo song, with a vaguely ethnic tribal rhythm, synths and cut-up voices. This too sounded a bit old fashioned industrial, but I thought this was the more exciting track of the two. Not a bad start but let's hope it doesn't stay with the retro industrial music.
On CDR we find the Feedback Society, from The Hague, The Netherlands and members have ties to the Seven Inch Records label. A trio of two musicians and a filmmaker, who uses a drill to create visual feedback. It sounds massive and perhaps it is, but when I saw it last week I was pretty impressed by it's presence, both in sound and image. On the CDR 'just' music and of course it's not easy to know wether it will work without the images. I must say it does stand by itself rather well. Their name is well-chosen, but Feedback Society is not exclusively about a feedback overload. Using sampled feedback in combination with analogue synthesizers, they craft together something that is at times painfully loud but in 'q4 absence' works also in a different way: quite soft, with spoken word samples and a delicately controlled atmosphere. As a total the music shifts back and forth between noisy bits and more introspective ones and makes thus a highly varied and interesting bunch of music. Next time with a film part please. (FdW)
Address: <>

If one expected Cohort Records to be a label for the drone, dark ambient and isolationist music areas, this new release proofs one wrong. This is all about quiet improvisation music. Yagihashi Tsukasa (alto sax), Sato Yukie (electric guitar, electronics) and Higo Hiroshi (electric bass, electronics) played the music that now found it's way to this CDR at The Temple Of No Power No Virtue in September last year. The trio plays free jazz, in a sort of regular way, but they do it in a rather soft way. It starts out with some playing in a very soft style, almost in an onkyo kind of way, but throughout these four long pieces, the saxophone plays quite regular notes, whereas the guitars play more drone related stuff. Its highly atmospherical music that is quite pleasant to hear, even at this length. (FdW) Address:

This is not our first encounter with Sam Hamilton. Only two weeks ago he was here as part of Muffin Seeks Sunship, who had a release on CLaudia, the same label who released his 3"CDR 'Low Hill' (see Vital Weekly 515). 'Please listen to it as if it was no different than music made by an origami crab playing a cucumber' it reads on the cover, but does the crab also knows how to play guitar, electronics, field recording, piano, computer and gong? Perhaps it does, but perhaps not as sophisticated as Sam Hamilton. The release has three tracks spanning just over twenty-six minutes. Whereas 'Low Hill' brought back the music of Dean Roberts, the overall atmosphere on this new release is much more dreamier and more minimal. The improvisational element of 'Low Hill' seems to be gone in total favor of composition. The nagging piano of 'Do Nothing Garden' with low key electronics is the centre piece of the release, slowly and minimally developing and unfolding it's beauty. The opening piece is a much shorter piece of swirling short electronic notes that slowly evolve into feedback and closes with piano notes. Also a moody piece, which can also be said of the closing piece, field recordings of fire works. Moody, atmospherical and in many ways very un New Zealand music, which is perhaps a very good thing. (FdW) Address:

Vital Weekly 138: that is how far back we had to search for a review of music by Marc McNulty. If you would have asked before hearing these new works, how did the old McNulty sound, I would perhaps describe something that is not too dissimilar from the two recent releases. I have no idea what McNulty has been doing in the long gap, but apparently he has been involved in producing sound installations in galleries around the world and played support act for Raster-noton artists. McNulty has moved from the older analogue works into using self-designed software tools, to create his overall mood related atmospherical music. His input consists of shortwave radio transmissions and field recordings, which are filtered in a pretty nice way into lengthy chunks of atmospherics. Even when the press text talks about industrial, techno and minimalism, but surely ambient is the best place for this music. There are differences to be noted between the two releases. 'Faraday Cage' sounds more
electronic and has lengthier tracks, whereas the seven pieces of 'Neurontin' are much shorter and seems to be built largely on field recordings: birds, people walking and street sounds. I preferred 'Neurontin' over 'Faraday Cage', since the latter sounded good but walked a bit too much in familiar territory for me, whereas the first had a pretty exciting processing of field recordings, and McNulty proofs to be one of the more interesting composers of microsound. (FdW) Address:

Kazuya Ishigami has created a digital reconstruction of primordial life, within warm Permian Seas and on its sandy shores the delicately evolving insect like life appears before the rise of the amphibians, lizards, and mammals who will finally destroy the now new and beautiful ecosystem. In this digital world life forms are simple short lived delicately colored experiments, a world before the rise and  the march of the symphonic monsters, bone crunching rhythms and final cacophony of modernity.
The editing of Master Toru Kai of the two short pieces, 12 and 10 minutes, on "In a Past Glory", is respectful: courteous: the left and right stereo images of white noise and human screams are shifted, cut, and folded, it is not yet black noise, it is brown noise. However any rhythm or temporal regularity  that may appear to us as accidental rather than programmed, any hallucination of western order in the apparent entropy of sound is mistaken by that western audience and its preconceptions of what is an non occidental formalism which only the naive reviewer such as myself would attempt to describe, or elucidate. There is no room here for our chaos as it lacks our history, which marks perhaps a fundamental difference between the noise works of the West and those of Japan. (jliat) Address:

BJERGA/IVERSEN - YOU, THE NIGHT & THE MUSIC (cassette by Dim Records)
Two weeks we introduced Dim Records as a new CDR label, and already Chefkirk threw them a master in a ploy to have a release on every CDR label in the world. No political theme here and now, but the start is promising: soft (!), concrete (!) and letting the sounds work their way. Half way through the second track things explode into the usual barrage of noise. The third piece opens with a bass guitar being played freely and some crackling noise, which grow in loudness and aggressiveness. The final piece is again just noise. An interesting release, since it shows us another Chefkirk, one that may be able to change the menu, but it is something he is probably now afraid to do. Let's hope this is a route he will explore.
Quite a surprise is the format of the Bjerga/Iversen release, a good old cassette, recorded on what seems to be a recycled cassette from a language course. It has to do with the fact that the music was recorded at 'Katrine's summer party' on a cheap children's cassette player (my first phoney no doubt). So something that is already lo-fi, being the music of Bjerga/Iversen is recorded lo-fi and presented back in a lo-fi manner: we are not dealing with high end sound quality here, but it fits the music of Bjerga/Iversen quite well, I must say. The slightly distorted guitars, the obscure sound sources (that might sound even more obscure here than they really were), makes this into a nice, willfully obscure release. Even the package is quite retro too. Very nice release. (FdW)

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