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Vital Weekly 555

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GIANNI LENOCI - SEXTANT (CD by Ambiances Magnetiques)
'Sextant' is the second cd by this Italian composer and improvisor for Ambiances Magnétiques. In 2003 he recorded a cd of improvised duets with Joëlle Léandre. Now he returns with a totally different multifaceted album of nine compositions for a small ensemble. They originated from workshops given by this italian pianist at Nino Rota Conservatory in Monopoli, where he worked with new teaching methodologies. Most compositions are by the hand of Gianni Lenoci himself who graduated from Santa Cecilia Conservatory in Rome and studied improvised music with Mal Waldron and Paul Bley. They are performed by: Adolfo Lavolpe (electric guitar, electronics), Fabrizio Scarafile (soprano saxophone), Francesco Massaro (alto & baritone sax), Francesco Angiuli (doublebass), Marcello Magliocchie (drums) plus Gianni Lenoci himself on (electric) piano, synthesizer and electronics. In the centre of this cd however we hear a work by Morton Feldman: 'Intermission VI'. A piece very close to silence. Tense and breakable. It is as if we are in the centre of a hurricane with this meditative piece, as most other pieces before and after are much more loud, jazzier, etc. 'Intermission IV' is preceded by 'Rothko (variations)' a piece that is about sound and texture with lots of electronics, plus piano and reeds. The second piece of this album 'Intersezione' and the last track of this album 'Notturno Frattale' are both very otherworldly electronic-only pieces, that are absolutely non-jazz. Most other pieces are very free jazz like works that share similarities with the music of Ornette Coleman of Shannon Jackson. They catch attention most of all because of the very strange combination of odd electronic sounds combined with saxes, drums, etc., like in the opening track or in the titletrack. The works differ enormously in style and character. I wonder what the underlying musically unifying concept is for this album, if there is any. But of course there is nothing wrong with showing very different faces. (Dolf Mulder) Address:

Two canadian guitar improvisors joined hands once again. As a duo they play since 1995 and in 2000 it was time for their first duo-recording for Ambiances Magnetiques. Arthur Bull is a veteran from the canadian improv scene and played with Michael Snow, Paul Dutton, John Oswald, etc. As a poet he published three books. Heikalo is an improvisor and composer. He also runs his own label: Heïkalo Sound Productions. Having a look in this catalogue learns that Heikalo released many solo-albums that show his interest in a diversity of strings instruments and also in electro-acoustic music. This label released also the second duo-recording of Bull and Heikalo. So with 'Concentrés and amalgames' were are listening to their third collaboration. Bull plays electric and prepared guitars and e-bow. Heikalo we hear on acoustic and classical guitars, but also on drums and percussion. The album features six guitar duets and five duets for guitar and percussion. In their playing they show a great togetherness that results in great music. Improvised music at its best. Both gentlemen speak their language of free form and non-idiomatic improvising very well and give way here to some very communicative and musical interaction in the classical Derek Bailey-style (Dolf Mulder)

RM74 & RLW - PIROUETTEN (CD by Crouton)
Many of the recent works by Ralf Wehowsky, also known as RLW (formerly the main man behind P16.D4) are collaborations with others, and here it is Reto Mäder, also known as RM74. Their work is ongoing, as before the released pieces of the 'Epitaph For John' compilation, the Wire website and on RM74's 'Fireproof In 8 Parts'. 'It exploits the authors' long-lasting dedication to the unpure tradition of centurial folkways' - whatever that may mean. Ralf plays gamelan, sitar, guitar, trombone, chimes, recordings of populated fields and Reto plays organ, accordion, cello, bass, guitar and harmonica, while both are responsible for all the transformations and composition. It's good that the mention all these instruments, since it would not be easy to recognize them. Some are all alright such as organ, harmonica and field recordings, whereas others may proof to be difficult. Or more difficult. But wether knowing what they used or not, is, I believe, not of real importance. They treat their material in a good old musique concrete like manner, except of course that they use computers and no longer reel-to-reel tapes. The music has been through improvisation, but in the end it comes down to hours and hours of editing. They did a wonderful job. It's experimental but light and they never loose 'music' out of sight. In 'Abwege' an organ plays a shimmering tone admist a bed chirping insect like sounds and the accordion takes over. Each of the eight moves gently back and forth between the unknown landscape of the digital terrain and more familiar music terrain. In all it's experimentalism actually quite an accessible CD! Comes in a nice plastic box with separate cards for each track, just like the RLW/Frisch CD - a small new tradition was born. (FdW) Address:

THE LOST DOMAIN - PALACE (CD by Pseudo Arcana)
Where Bruce Russel makes use of the editing techniques of musique concrete and dub to deconstruct blues schemes (see his album "21st Century Field Hollers and Prison Songs"), The Lost Domain from Brisbane come up with narcotic drones, that present themselves as a psychedelic slow-motion version of traditional blues aesthetics. Interwoven sustained guitar tones open this disc, overtones and fragile feedback, slight tremolos - lost vibrations in empty space, crawling forward at a minimum speed. Only gradually the music gains some density, and a vague idea of structure comes in. Later the tension is raised, some more gritty surfaces are sketched out and on the third track (five in total, all untitled) the disc reaches a short dramatic peak with heavy percussive bangs and wordless vocals somewhere between crooning and screaming. Then things get quieter again and the last track, much lighter in sound than the rest, marks a wonderfully calm ending. The music is of a warm and rich quality throughout, evoking the saturated, slightly blurred sound of ancient recording devices, and delivers a fine example of drone-improv capturing nostalgically-charged moody vibes. (Magnus Schaefer) Address:

In the world of noise, a lot evolves around friendship, and it seems more than in other areas, well, perhaps save for improvisation. Boxed sets of various artists in the realms of noise music happen quite a lot, like a 10 LP set of Californian noise artists. Here a small set of three 3" CDs on Blake Edwards' C.I.P. label, and it's perhaps a remarkable step. The label seemed to have grown into a more all round experimental one, moving away from the strict noise. But the decision to put these on three separate discs is fine, one can select what to play and within the time span, things are long enough. Xome starts the proceedings (random pick actually) with seven short and highly intense blasts of noise. Things are furious, but due to the shortness it works well on the intensity level. Goat on the other hand offers just one track and here is what I sometimes find problematic about noise music: the 'let's carry on and don't look back' approach. Full on distortion and feedback, but that lacks the true power, and in the end may end up something worn out. Sixes is the new name for me, and they are from Oakland. For some odd reason I think they are the most interesting of the lot, and perhaps it comes, curiously enough, from the somewhat lo-fi recording. Sixes uses the same ingredients, but also loops and built in a balance between harsher and less harsher parts. Sometimes it sinks to an almost low volume threshold. Sixes it seems have thought out what they wanted to do, and actually started composing with the various components of noise in an interesting way. Perhaps the quality of the recording could be better, unless of course it's all intentional, which would sharpen the music, but throughout this is nice work. In all, quite a good set, with one weaker brother. (FdW) Address:

A long time ago, when I was in my Residents-phase I discovered the world of radical Harry Partch, through that long piece on the b-side of the 'Fingerprince' album called 'Six things to a cycle'. It opened up a new world for me. 'Petals fell on Petaluma' became one of my favorite records of his. Partch is one of those eccentric american composers like Conlon Nancarrow. One day he decided to destroy all of his compositions and made a new start from scratch, composing in just intonation for instruments he designed himself. He died in 1974 and in recent years it was Dean Drummond with his Newband a.o. who kept the music of Partch alive. Some of his work is released by CRI. I wasn't aware until now that Innova Recordings was also building a impressive catalogue of Partch‚ work. In their Enclosure-series Innova Recordings released now the seventh and last item. In the past cds, videos and a book on Partch were released. An overview of this series is contained on the dvd in the 'extras'-section. I must say, a true monument for this important american composer. All this is the work of Philip Blackburn who worked 20 years on the Partch archives. Let's turn to the dvd. It opens with a documentary 'The Dreamer that remains' (1972) by Stephen Poliout. Partch, tells the story of his life, alternated by performances of his music. We see a passionate man.
The documentary is followed by 'Delusion of the fury', one of his major works. Now it is possible to enjoy this work at last in its totality. We can see the choreography and strange antiquity- and japan-inspired costumes of this ritual-theater. I must admit I found more drama and expression in the face and presentation of Harry Partch himself. Just look at that funny little fragment where he is cooking 'Rose Petal Jam', or his performance of 'The Letter'.
'Delusion of the Fury' was originally released as an double album by Columbia in a nice box, that I happen to have in my collection. Alas without the third album that was included with the first edition. On this record Partch introduces 27 of his instruments, and it offers the opportunity to taste all of his inventions one by one. Happily this record is enclosed on this DVD accompanied by photos from the respective instruments. The oldest moving pictures on this dvd date from 1960. We see a fragment of the extensive work 'Revelation in the Courthouse Park'. Dancers, gymnasts, majorettes, fireworks fill the stage. It is also special for its combination of the instruments of Partch combined with brass band. This dvd, because of the combination of documentary, music, introduction to his instruments, etc., serves as a perfect introduction for those who want to know more about this composer. Also for fans this one is of course not to be missed! Sound quality is okay. (DM) Address:

Despite his name sounding Greek, David Papapostolou is a French man living in Bristol. With 'One Two' he makes his debut into the world of music. He plays here acoustic guitar, cello and soprano saxophone - they marked on the each track as 'gc', 'gs' and 'g'. There is some sound leaking in from the outside and that may perhaps be qualified as field recordings. He doesn't play both instruments at once of course, but layers them in the computer, but they are responses to each other. This means we are dealing here with some highly improvised music, and Papapostolou does a great job. Carefully strumming and using his instruments as objects, using a bit of overtones through feedback in 'g', this is very much the product of silent playing and using the instrument as an object. This is a statement: I'm here, listen and invite me to play around with others. As such this is very good point of departure. (FdW)

RED NEEDLED SEA - 4 DAYS OFF (CDR by Ambolthue Records)
MASKINANLEGG - FABRIKK (3"CDR by Ambolthue Records)
Ambolthue Records is a new label, run by 18-year old Kjetil Hanssen, which seeks to release experimental and noise music. Red Needled Sea is one Panos Alexiades from Greece, of whom I never heard. Apparently he had four days off somewhere and used that time to record this work. Things start out in the very soft manner, and it seems like another Francisco Lopez. But out of the shimmering mass very loose ends come forward and suddenly we recognize that all of it comes from a guitar. Red Needled Sea plays the guitar in a rather improvised manner, feeding it off through a couple of sound effects (one of them being a phaser, which I didn't expect to hear again in my life), and throughout it's quite a nice work. Sometimes it all drags a bit on without too many changes or new ideas, or, such as in 'Day 4' when we get to hear all the sound effects and their endless possibilties, but it was not bad at all.
Maskinanlkegg is Bjørn Hatterud, of whom reviewed some music before. For this new release, Bjørn uses "one Roland R77 Rythm machine from 1977, one studiomaster mixing table from 1980, cheap cables and a computer" to create a twenty minute piece of harsh rhythmic music, that sounds as gritty and dirty as in Esplendor Geometrico's early (and best) days. The rhythm is fed through a bunch of plug ins and outs and make a heavy deforming sound. It moves away from the previous Maskinanlkegg releases, which were more towards real noise, without too much rhythm. You can wonder if twenty minutes is perhaps a bit too much for such a single minded piece, but it works well. (FdW) Address:

ANDREW DEUTSCH - BASALT 1996-2006 (cassette by Throne Heap)
There isn't much information to go at with this cassette - even when the format might be something of a surprise. If I understood correctly this release is based on a live recording of a concert by Deutsch and Pauline Oliveros in 1996, which are now fed through a whole bunch of computerized effects. One could expect some introvert drone music, based on the accordion of Oliveros, but it's not. Deutsch uses many layers of processed sound to tell his story. It's throughout quite noisy and chaotic, even when it never goes over the top as sometimes happens with noise. It's not easy to find a structure in this music, but perhaps that's not the idea of Deutsch. Maybe it's all intended as a free flow, streaming like lava downhill. Maybe a different kind of drone music is searched for here, not the quiet one, or the noisy one, but the chaotic one, without a hierarchy in sound. It is quite captivating this stream of sound and clocking at thirty two minutes the right length. (FdW) Address:

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