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Vital Weekly 554

img  Tobias

Following three volumes of drone (and related) music under the banner of 'The Walls Are Whispering', EE Tapes ventures again in the world of compilations. I think the title implicates not so much food as silence. Six plates are depicted on the cover, but not one of the artists refer to food, dinner or some such. So they try to play the silent card in music. One could say that they already did that with the 'Walls Are Whispering', but, perhaps the differences are marginal, the music here is more experimental and playing less around with the notion of drone (sustaining fields of sound, producing a sound to dream away with). Somebody like Kendo Nagasaki has a bunch of field recordings, feeding through a whole bunch of synthesizers. The static hum by Civyiu Kkliu is a bit drone related, but may not work as well as a piece of drone music, as it's too angular. Something similar can be said of the piece by The [Law-Rah] Collective. What is curious though, is that none of these pieces are really quiet. I mean quiet as in Lopez like inaudibility. There is always something to be heard. Each of the six bands takes around eleven to seventeen minutes, and thus we have a fine impression of what they are doing. They all have material elsewhere available, so this 'Table For Six' may serve as a good introduction. Also included are Tarkatak, Cisfinitum and 33Mhz. Very nice compilation, which should appeal to all who love a non-quiet microsound. (FdW) Address:

Brannon Hungness is a busy man. At one point, early in his career, he was a member of the Glenn Branca Ensemble, he released a solo Symphony (on Multimood), and worked as Figure and the Oblivion Ensemble. The latter he started with John Bergstrom, who is a 'computer music gearhead', film soundtrack composer, but also behind industrial noise assembly Torse. The Oblivion Ensemble is however a six piece band, besides Hungness on guitar, voice and electronics and Bergstrom on keyboards, voice and electronics, there is also Mark Kirschenmann on trumpet and electronics, Doug Wallace and Primo Mussemeci both on percussion and vocals by Rebecca Karpoff. If I understand well the music by this ensemble is not written out through scores, but they play together and improvise their music. Afterward the music gets spliced out, re-edited, re-shaped, fragmented and collated together. And sometimes blocks of sound remain untouched. The whole thing sounds pretty coherent. The music itself is fine but odd mixture of industrial music (although not plain noise), modern classical eruptions and improvisations - the latter of a more regular kind. Eerie textures are easily combined with chaotic and hectic movements. I am not sure wether we should see all twenty-two pieces as part of the total, or wether they are all separate, I rather believe the first, since some parts do flow nicely into each other, thus making the greater picture. There is a darker undercurrent on this CD, which doesn't make it easy to grasp, but it unfolds great beauty when explored in depth (and in dark, I presume). (FdW) Address:

NEBELNEST - ZEPTON (CD by Cuneiform)
Nebelnest - what a fascinating name! - from France was formed in 1997. Their first one came out on Laser's Edge in 1999. Three years later they were discovered by Cuneiform Records who released their second album. And now by the same label their third effort sees the light. As I don‚t know their former albums I can‚t make any remarks concerning their development. What can be said is that they take their time to develop their music. This seems to be a proces of the group, as the music is composed and arranged by the band. I saw their name often mentioned in articles, etc about the continuation of Magma- and Rock in Opposition-inspired music. For instance, to be expected soon is the long awaited tribute cd 'Hamtai' on Welcome Records. Dedicated to the music of Magma it will carry also a track by Nebelnest. The band will play at the resurrected R.I.O.-festival in april 2007 in the south of France. Rock in Opposition (R.I.O.) was an important step in beginning of the 80s for avant rock groups like Univers Zero, Stormy Six, Henry Cow, Etron Fou Leloublan and others. But these references explain only partially where the music of Nebelnest is to be situated. With all the relativity of labelling I would call their music above all progrock. Nebelnest is a trio of the brothers Grégory Tejedor (bass), Olivier Tejedor (keyboards) and Michael Anselmi (drums, percussion). They are assisted by guitarist Cyril Malderez, also an original member who seems to be replaced by Sébastien Carmona. Vincent Boukefa helps out on clarinet. Their music is energetic and powerful. Their steaming performance is convincing throughout, and it's he most impressive aspect of their music if you ask me. How energetic and violent the music may be, on the other hand it is also very fluid and accessible. Typical for french progrockers. If you have a weakness for the mellotron some of the tracks like the opening piece 'Pilars of Birth' will please you. Also the rumbling and driving bas of Grégory Tejedor is a pleasure. 'Zepto' covers the work of the last three years and the diversity of compositions show how Nebelnest took different roads in that period. The Univers Zero-like 'Fabric of reality' has Olivier Tejedor on violin on the forefront with a soundcollage in the background. "De triumpho Naturae" is a very symphonic piece. Like other symphonic pieces on this album I associate them most of all with King Crimson. Especially in the last two tracks they are really seeking for new territories. As one of them is called "Do what thou wilt" this is promising for the future... (Dolf Mulder) Address:

Alessandro Bosetti is perhaps best know as an improviser on various wind instruments - well at least to me. Being a creator of text sound piece is something that I didn't know. 'Il Fiore Della Bocca' was made in commission of a German radio station in 2002-2003, and uses the voices of physically and mentally handicapped people. If I understood correctly they listened to sound poetry and talked about it. Some of them started to produce similar sounds, which Bosetti then uses in his compositions. Sometimes these conversations are plain and to be followed - well, if you speak German (translations on the artist' website). The handicapped talk about the funny aspects of sound poetry, thinking it's the work of comedians. It took me some time to get into this release. First I was a bit shocked. Is this pleasure at the expense of others? Another form of shock music? But the more I heard it, and the more I know about it, the more fascinating it gets. Some pieces are cut to make almost rhythmic poetry, sometimes its like a radio documentary. Processing is hardly used, more editing in the traditional sense of the word: stereo panning, looping, cutting short of sounds. Where Bosetti uses processing, I must say I find it the least interesting pieces of the work. Maybe it's the unwanted part of this release that is shocking - it's not easy to deal with people who have a handicap and who are not able to speak as easy as others. An uneasiness but here we are forced to listen to it (that is, if you don't want to ignore the release) and it turns out to be a truly fascinating release.
I lived in the sixties, but can't remember a damn thing. It wasn't the drugs, but rather infancy. So for me Fluxus is a cry from the past - an interesting one, but something from the past. Rossbin recommends that you first listen to the CD and then watch the DVD, even when the content, music wise, is the same. It's music as made by Fluxus people in the past, using paper, musicboxes, nylon or a gramophone. On CD this sounds like a bunch unorganised electro-acoustics, which only make sense if you watch the DVD. Then you see the action and the sound starts making sense. All of these pieces are performed with great care and without a single trace of humor, or perhaps any sort of enjoyment in doing what you do. Only the two children seem to be having a good time. The rest is top heavy through self-seriousness. I am still not sure which fact I appreciated more: not seeing the people performing this, or liking the music they performed without seeing it? (FdW) Address:

Although I remember seeing the name "The Green Blossoms" popping up in Vital once and again, this CD-R is my first encounter with their music. "The Green Blossoms" are a duo of Aiko Koga on vocals and ukulele and Anthony Guerra on vocals, electric guitar, ukulele, mandolin, pitch pipe and percussion. Their music is a fine blend of sweet melancholia and occasional joyful melodies, with washes of warm drones, wordless humming voices, tinkling sounds and plucked strings. The utterly beautiful sounds and reduced, fragile compositions are of a light nature, all is calm and peaceful. Yet there is still a notion of rawness to these tracks that greatly proves Koga's and Guerra's sense for creating a feeling of directness and intimacy. "Intimate" is also a keyword for the CD by Antony Milton (label owner of Pseudo Arcana). The disc collects music recorded in 2000 and 2003, and judging by all the background hiss I wouldn't be surprised to learn it was created with most basic means. Milton uses electric guitar, violin and sometimes sings, close to the microphone, with a slightly insecure voice. Most of the time he plays nice, unpretentious melodies, but he also explores some looser structures. His music ranges from the shy and introspective to ecstatic jamming and is overall pretty raw, concerning the recording quality as well as the playing itself. Other than with The Green Blossoms you could call it lack of refinement in this case. But maybe this exactly is the strength of the music, it's highly personal, almost informal in nature, and as such makes up for an enjoyable release. (Magnus Schaefer)

GD Stereo is a small label from the USA, whose releases are sparse and wide apart, but they always seem to deal with geography. Label owner Geoff Dugan was invited since 2000 by Tamio Shiraishi (saxophone) and Sean Meehan (percussion) to come to their open air concerts at unusual locations. Dugan recorded them on various occasions, the first ended up on 'In The City' on Fusetron Records. Now he releases two concerts on his own label. One side is recorded beneath the Manhattan Bridge in Chinatown and the other inside a subterranean municipal parking garage - both in New York City. Those are the plain details. The music is all improvised, but it deals with some interesting points. First of all, in what way do the locations matter? Do the musicians listen to what the other is doing and in what way do the sounds from the environment interact with their playing? Do they respond? I think they do. When the subway passes, the music increases. That's one aspect. The other one is that field recordings are used here in a very subtle way. The environment becomes an extra instrument, and perhaps Dugan as an extra player. On the bridge side, Shiraishi's saxophone sounds like tires of a car and Meehan's snare drum produces some interesting scratching, making both to sound as something else. The environment is of course used a lot inside the world of field recordings but never (or at least not as much) as it is done here. The music gets incorporated in the environment and the recording is simply breathtaking. This is a great work, one of the few of improvised music that has something new to say. And the cover is beautifully silkscreened. Lovely item to cherish! (FdW)

The link between the two projects is that are both from Chicago area and that are both from the world of improvised music. Mouths is project around the ever active Jon Mueller (percussion, cassettes, vocals), Jim Schoenecker (analogue synthesizer, shortwave radio, vocals) and Werner Moebius (computer, devices) and their piece '1V2E' was recorded live earlier this year in Milwaukee. It sounds unlike one would expect from a group of improvisers. The larger part of the piece sounds like a motorized piece of drone music. It's hard, if not difficult to recognize such things as vocals or drums. It's for the larger part a closed piece of systematic research, and only towards the end the piece opens up and unfolds, but even then it's hard to believe that this is 'just' a work of improvisation or that indeed it's live. But it's a great piece.
Haptic on the other side is also a trio, consisting of Steven Hess (known from his work with Pan American, Dropp Ensemble, On and Fessenden), Joseph Mills (known from the Dropp Ensemble and Jonathan Chen) and Adam Sonderberg (again of the Dropp Ensemble and Civil War). They don't list any instruments as such per player, but they use percussion, digital and analogue devices, but also hurdy gurdy, tuning forks and 'various bowed objects'. 'Danjon Scale' is not the result of a live recording, but the combination of various recordings made at their own rehearsal space as well as some concerts. Here too there is an element of drone music with sustained cymbals and bowed objects. Dark and unsettling is what springs to mind. There is a creepy undercurrent in the music, wether it's in the more quiet beginning or in the even more subtle ending, it seems there is danger lurking around the corner. Also like a sound track to a horror movie. Both sides are simply great pieces of expanded improvised music. (FdW)

Not much info on this one, just a cryptic remark: 'recording/mix/processing: 2005-2006'. The title being 'Untitled/exchange', which suggest that these two exchanged material they recorded and each processed the work. It's unclear wether they did each a track, or that both tracks are the result of a collaborative work. Both Schumacher and Vitiello are known for the love of minimal music, that is music with not many changes, usually made with computers. As such this collaborative work is a bit different. Although they still play around with longer, repeating textures, almost in a drone like manner, there are also sounds that swirl in and out of the mix. Sometimes it seems to be a synthesizer, sometimes a guitar, sometimes perhaps the processed version of acoustic objects. Not always this comes across as super structured music, but more like a free flow. Nothing leaps out of the mix, and things move all the time on the same level. This gives the whole release a nice and relaxed ambient feel, even when as such the music has not much to do with ambient music. Not really a big surprise, but throughout very nice. (FdW) Address:

The second release by Seppuku Boogie is again a double pack, both of which, despite one title, are not recorded live. As noted with the first release (see Vital Weekly 513), Seppuku Boogie is the side project of Tscheljabinski 65. Live In Samoa is a highly ambient release. The first two pieces deal with waving, free floating synthesizer sounds, and in 'Epiphenomenon' a slow rhythm is added, but the piano with reverb stays. The music is highly ambient, nice and moves away from the previous more dark and industrial music, and finds itself in perhaps a somewhat more primitive Eno atmosphere. But maybe it's inspired by the sunny title, and 'Cafe Deutschland' reflects the darker side, as this is more along the lines of the first double pack. Dark, atmospheric sounds, dwelling heavily on samples, feeding through lines of sound effects. Here too there is one track that is based on rhythm, 'T(h)rust', but it's a rather hectic, danceable rhythm box piece and electronics. To be honest,  'Cafe Deutschland' sounded a bit too much like the first release, and 'Live In Samoa' was much nicer, lighter and sparkling.
For unclear reasons the release by Baradelan took several years before it became available. Whoever Baradelem is we don't know, but we learn that the music is based 'on field recordings made at megalithic buildings and places throughout Northern Germany, such as Gromlechs, inside graves chambers, hills etc.'. I am not sure if Baradelan performed any sounds there, or that we get some treatments of those field recordings. I assume the later. Rain drops captured in those caves are treated and made into music. For some odd reason I was reminded of the A.B.G.S. release 'Bunkerschallung', although of course something different, but it had the same natural reverb thing going on, like being trapped inside a cave yourself. Also Lustmord's 'Heresy' seems to me a source of inspiration.  I liked this release because it doesn't fall into the trap of anything 'magick' or 'ov ritual'. It becomes rather dark and moody atmospheric pieces of environmental sounds and nothing more. The story you can think of yourself, and that's fine enough, as far as I'm concerned. (FdW) Address:

Y.ANN - VALYTHEME (CDR by Kokeshidisk)
2KILOS & MORE - 9.21 (3"CDR by Taalem)
M.B. - BACTERIE (3"CDR by Taalem)
Four new releases on Taalem (well, five, but of course for some obvious reasons we will not review the excellent Shifts 3" CDR 'Branches', but have a more objective look at this later by someone else) and two on Kokeshidisk, which is the Taalem division specialized in re-issues of rare, limited CDR and tape releases. The first one there is by Y.ann, one of the two men behind the Ultra Milkmaids. He released 'Valytheme' as a cassette on their own U Mohol label in 1997, and some of the pieces ended up being demos for the Ultra Milkmaids. I only hear very irregular music by the milkies, as they call themselves, even back then, so it's a bit hard to relate this solo release (their only) to the group sound. What I hear sounds very much of their time: ambient music with a firm (or rather: healthy) dose of experimental music. Music played on a combination of synthesizers, primitive samplers and e-bows on guitars, all fed through the usual sound effects to smear the sound together and make densely layered atmospheric music.
Desaccord Majeur has been around since a long time, having released on labels such as Staalplaat and Play Loud, but in their early days also cassettes. 'La Coleur Odorante' is one of those tapes, released in 1995, and it was a compilation of various tracks released. The music from Desaccord Majeur that I know always was a bit problematic for me. The pseudo ethnic rhythms out of a digital box sounded too clean and dry for and never really ethnic or ambient. These older works are different in as much as the ambient part is already there, but no sign yet of the ethnic rhythms. The rhythms that are there are minimal beats to support whatever is going and are more from the ambient house music that was popular in that part of the 90s. I must say that this kind of music by Desaccord Majeur is actually quite nice. I don't think it will ever be my favorite, but here is it is a bit like a time machine: it reminds me of the music that I liked back then.
On the Taleem label four new releases as part of their ongoing series of 3"CDRs with drone music, of all kinds. Now up to thirty seven releases, it has become almost like Drone Records an ongoing and ever expanding encyclopedia of drone music. They have known and lesser known artists alike. The first one is by Bardoseneticcube from Russia, who has had releases on Drone Records, Steinklang, Athanor and Mechanoise Labs, of which I didn't hear everything. The two pieces here are fairly alright excursions into the underworld. In the first untitled track it's rather through the use of processed voices, but in the second piece some obscured synthesizer sounds.
2Kilos & More are a French duo, using electronics and real instruments, such as guitar and melodica and their '9.21' is the first release, following a variety of live gigs. The first part of the title piece is a dark slab of music in which none of the instruments can be recognized and which is a bit too much in Cold Meat Industry areas for my taste. The second one, with it's dry clicking sounds, guitar and rhythm box feeding through the echo has a much more interesting built up and some tension, but throughout I wasn't entirely convinced.
Also new to me is Botchan Karisen, who apparently also works under the name of Babylone Chaos and who is a member of Scripta Manent. On 'Reaction Mecaniques' he works with piano sounds, noise and manipulated sounds. The latter either totally speed up pieces of vinyl or computer processing. The noise it generates sounds familiar, and didn't strike me as very good or original. Throughout the pieces there are only some slight deviations to this theme, making the piano a bit louder, then a bit softer etc, but it could not interest me for the entire length of twenty or so minutes.
Maurizio Bianchi is the most well-known musician in this lot, and even a superhero among the heroes on the Taalem label. Since his return to the world of music some years ago, he seems to be more active than in his first period (the early eighties) with all sorts of releases, nothing is less enough. Also title wise he is back with the real thing. 'Bacterie' is a twenty-four minute work of of ambient versus noise electronics. It's never really harsh, but on the other hand it doesn't lull the listener into a deep sleep. Continuos slabs of synth noise, fed through some echo line. Sound wise things may have improved over the years but it's surely along with some of his best works of the early 80s. Powerful stuff, still, not in terms of musical innovation, but strong in execution. (FdW)

The work of Asher, who hails from Sommerville, Massachusetts, has been reviewed before in Vital Weekly. He mainly deals with mp3 releases, perhaps out of economic reasons,, but occasionally it's also a CDR, like his third release on Con-V. While playing this release, I was thinking about Asher and how he works. Imagine Asher as a painter, who puts paint on his canvas, takes up a knife and starts erasing the paint, not entirely but just the top layer. That is perhaps what Asher does with sound. He takes a recording and peels off the top layer, the layer that makes up much of the sound, and shows us the sound below, the hiss, the static, the crackle. Perhaps Asher just uses cleverly some old 78 rpm record, which he loops around adds a some crackle files, but I have a slightly more romantic notion of this. I see him recording his music (wether or not lifted from an old 78 rpm) on a reel-to-reel machine, and then moves the playback heads a bit so that the play-back is only half what it
should be. The broken cable to record it on his computer (!) is just an other tool. In the four pieces he delicate repeats the process with slight variations. As such there isn't much difference with his previous works, but this one sounds even more refined.
Kevin M. Krebs is lesser known as Asher and all I know is that his work was recorded in Seoul earlier this year. Apparently using manipulations of concrete and abstract electronics, he creates a work that is perhaps a bit of an odd-ball in the catalogue of Con-V as it's a much louder than a regular Con-V release. In all five pieces, Krebs  playing the abstract electronics part. The whatever origin of concrete sounds are merely used to trigger a set of computer plug ins or perhaps somethings max/msp, and once set in motion, things develop by themselves, or so it seems. Perhaps I am entirely wrong. However the outcome is rather noise related, although never over the top, it has familiar lines to noise, through the use of distortion like sounds. But Krebs stretches his sound and that adds a sort of ambient feel to the music. Ambient industrial, so to say, and as such not so new sounding, except perhaps it comes out of a computer. It pretty much alright, but not great. (FdW) Address:

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