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Vital Weekly 561

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BEAUTUMN - NORTHING (CD by Infraction Records)
TETSU INOUE - WORLD RECEIVER (CD by Infraction Records)
Since the demise of Silent Records several years there is a large gap in the world of ambient and related music. It has perhaps also to do with the fact that this kind of music is less popular than in the days of Silent. Several smaller labels keep up the good work and Infraction Records might never be bigger than Silent Records, their small catalogue has a similar interest in ambient, experiment, sound scaping and even an odd bit of rhythm here and there, just as Silent in it's best days. The previous release by Beautumn was reviewed in Vital Weekly 506, and it is said he hails from Moscow and is one half of Sleepy Town Manufacture. 'Northing' moves away from the 'deep' ambient territory of White Coffee and adds all of Infraction's interests: the CD opens with field recordings, which are sampled into a rhythm and embedded in a hot bed of warm, analogue synthesizers. A sort of a programm for this CD, which is a nice flow of various combinations and techniques, both analogue and digital. Not every track is great, since some are a bit directionless and without too much structure, but Beautumn always hints for atmosphere, and as such he does he pretty good job. Not creating some spectacular under the ambient sun, this is just very solid experimental ambient work.
Field recordings are also the opening sounds of Tetsu Inoue's CD, but he's excused: it's a re-issue of a CD from 1996 on Instinct Records. As said I probably said before, I never kept up with his work, and probably for no good reason. This proto-ambient work from the big days of ambient house music is definitely a great CD and a re-issue is indeed much deserved. Soft, not too outspoken, washes of synthesizers, but also the forebode of digital glitch that later on became ambient glitch are mixed with the aforementioned field recordings and bits of soft tinkling rhythms. Timeless and weightless space is captured here. Not too dissimilar from Brian Eno's work in this direction, both 'On Land' and 'Apollo' spring to mind, and a definite landmark of it's own. (FdW)

KATTOO - HANG ON TO A DREAM (CD by Hymen Records)
German composer Volker Kahl knows how to create sonic visions for the inner cinema of the listener. The ex-member of cutting edge electronica-project Beefcake, impressed with his debut-album "Places" of cinematic beauty. This follow-up album is no exception. With the quite hitting album title "Hang on to a dream" Volker Kahl takes the listener into sound worlds of melancholia and dynamic progression. The album contains a lot of atmospheric and quite emotional moments. The combination of grandiose ambient-scapes and melodic piano-tunes work perfect with the occasional moments of syncopated rhythms and distorted breakbeats. Samples of everything from orchestral passages to processed choir strengths the intensity of the album. "Hang on to a dream" is a deep, very personal album and remarkable album. Highly recommended! (Niels Mark Pedersen) Address:

A quick scan before I forward this to Jliat, I thought. Ok, so Government Alpha do noise. They are among the many noise artists one of the better ones. Their feedback onslaught is always quite alright and on their six tracks are no let down in that respect. Jliat stuff indeed. Let me quick check to make sure I make no mistake the Bastard Noise side, three tracks in total. Hold on, something is wrong here. I hear... nothing. Is my CD player fucked up, tired and /or overworked? Once I put the volume up, there is indeed something to be heard. Very soft and very low end. Very intense, very slow, and very low rumble. Also the next two tracks are very much unlike what one could expect from a band like Bastard Noise. Not the real true unrelentness noise, but somewhat louder than the first piece, organic masses of 'noise', changing shape, color and intensity throughout the course of these pieces. If I ever thought noise has no future, than these three tracks by Bastard Noise proof me wrong (once again?). There is still a lot that can be done in the realms of noise, and followers should get this an example. I can't read the cover at all, but it's also available through:

Somehow the previous collaboration between David Grubbs and Susan Howe never reached me, but I believe it's also a work of sound and poetry. Subject here are the Labadists, an Utopian Quietest sect that moved from The Netherlands to Maryland in 1684 and dissolved in 1722. "Labadists believed, among other things, the necessity of inner illumination, diligence and contemplative reflection. Marriage was renounced. They held all property in common (including children) and supported themselves by manual labor and commerce". Howe reads poems, I assume writing by Labadists. Grubbs plays a khaen baet, khaen jet, VCS3 synthesizer and computer. Howe has a pleasant voice that is nice to hear, but also intense. Grubbs waves patterns of sounds below it, usually drone like buzzing of insects, rising and falling every now and then. It's a bit like Phill Niblock but with poetry reading. The whole thing breaths indeed contemplative reflection, even if one chooses not to follow the reading quite close. I sort of tried both approaches, listening closely to the text and then to the overall texture of the pieces and found both highly enjoyable. A fine work throughout. (FdW) Address:

A small but true story. A long time ago I was living in an empty room, with just a sleeping bag, a matrass and a chair. In the morning I looked in a CD to comb my hair and shave. That small memory came back when I opened the truly beautiful package of Zoe Irvine and  Mark Vernon. The latter you may know from his work as Vernon and Burns, radioplay makers and of Hasslehound. Irvine has had a release on 7Hings of her found sound work (see Vital Weekly 543). Subject here is hair: human, pets, hairdressers, barbers and wigmakers. They are interviewed or tell about style, fashion, cutting and the sounds of scissors and razors is present. For someone like me, who never spends much time with his hair, or goes to a hairdresser, it's an almost otherworldly listening session. It's not that I don't like it, au contraire, it's a fascinating world that I don't feel part of in anyway. That makes this all the more fascinating. To talk as much and as diverse about something I would consider highly trivial. It's radio play production that is excellent made. A true story, but otherwise it can be compared to Gregory Whitehead's 'Dead Letters' epos. Perhaps not something to stick on every day, but every now and then (just like you should do with a radio), is not bad at all. And, like said, a great package. (FdW)

Music by Kai Fagaschinski has been reviewed before, for instance the Los Glissandos CD on Creative Sources (see Vital Weekly 480) or his work with Bernard Gal (see Vital Weekly 506). Here he presents a work with Micheal Thieke, who is a member of Hotelg�ste (see Vital Weekly 494) and who has otherwise strong ties in the world of improvisation. The curious thing is of course that both play the clarinet. Since 2000 they operate as a duo, and after a while of improvising, they now want to play as if they sound like one instrument instead of two. On 'The International Nothing', they have five tracks of this kind of playing together, which are great works of sustaining sounds. Introspective, quiet, minimal. Great pieces. They also have some tracks with guest players, such as a piece with Margareth Kammerer on vocals and guitar or a piece with the double basses of Christian Weber and Derek Shirley and I must say that they sort of break the tranquil character of the other five pieces. It's not that they are bad, but are perhaps too distinctly different from the other pieces, which form a very homogenous part of this CD. Throughout it's a very good CD of music that crosses the line of composition and improvisation. (FdW) Address:

ENGLISH HERETIC - WYRD TALES (CD & book, private release)
This package blurs the tenuous boundaries between art and magick. With a 92-page A5 format booklet and a 70 minute CD, it documents English Heretic's research into the magick of sound or the sound of magick. The book contains a series of essays and stories which explain (or further mystify!) the process by which the tracks on the CD were created. The CD itself is a blending of neo-folk and ritual instruments with field recordings and electronically processed sound. Drawing inspiration from local folk tales, medieval and recent history, the magick of A. O. Spare, supernatural fiction, and the consumption of hallucinogens - it takes us on a journey through the more sinister realms of occultism. Some of the tracks are pure sound-experimentation - layering processed sounds on top of field recordings, others are ordinary (although it seems wrong to use the word "ordinary" in this case) songs, there is also a "pathworking", where a sonic-collage is accompanied by a narrator guiding the listener through a series of ritual visualisations. Over the years, I've listened to quite a lot of work that attempts to blend occultism with various forms of electroacoustic work, but never before have I heard it done quite as well as it's done here. (EE)

This release raises a few interesting questions about improvisation and recordings thereof. Is a recording of an improvisation still an improvisation, or has it become a composition, frozen in time, put out on vinyl or CD (or in fact any other sound carrier)? Or is it simply a documentation of an event? The booklet comes with some interesting notions about it, which I won't spoil here. The concept behind the music is interesting. Michel Henritzi invited four improvisers to send him a recording of improvised music which is placed on the right channel and on the left channel we hear improvisations by Henritzi. None of this was made with hearing what the 'other' was doing. "It's an arbitrary collage between two distinct digital channels". Divided into four strict tracks of ten minutes, each deals with a certain aspect of sound. 'Feedback' explains itself through the guitars of Henritzi and Bruce Russell, 'Independance' has Mattin on guitar and Henritzi on hammer, electric saw and acoustic guitar and is indeed two very distinct channels of Fluxus like happening sound, mixed with noise. A jack is played on 'Action Directe' while Taku Unami plays computer in a slightly rhythmic fashion, with electric disturbance on the other speaker. The most pure improvisation piece comes from Shin'ichi Isohata on an acoustical playing on an electric guitar, while Henritzi plays a turntable. Pure improvisation, perhaps, because it sounds like it to those who are only slightly familiar with the genre. Throughout I thought all four tracks were great, and wether they are composed or improvised is something I don't care about that much. The result, the artifact, the residue or the conservation in time is what matters. And that is great. (FdW) Address:

LOUKIA KATSIMERI (22/6/1963 - 22/12/1991) (CDR by Editions_Zero)
ROEL MEELKOP - NUMBERED FOUR (CDR by A Question Of Re-entry)
It's no shame if you never heard of Loukia Katsimeri. She was a member of 'Oi Mihanologoi', a Greek experimental group which had a track on a compilation LP called 'Apo Mihanis Music' (alongside the Hafler Trio), years and years ago. Katsimeri got killed in 1991 in a cycling accident in Paris, and the age of 28. She liked to travel to collect sounds from around the world, and in the village of Sohos in 1991 she recorded during carnival this sound piece of dressed up people running and walking in goat shaped customs and large cowbells. She made this tape, which lasts about thirty minutes, which was recently discovered by the people of Editions Zero. I have no idea wether or not this is a straight recording or not, but it actually sounds quite nice. The sounds swell in intensity, seem to die out, but then return again, and this goes on. Recorded as such? Or re-created? I think the first, as we hear the irregular voices and some far away sounds too in there somewhere. It's not a top quality recording, but the somewhat clouded sound that is now part of the recording, makes it all quite nice.
The name Roel Meelkop is often cited in this pages as a point of reference in the world of microsound, but perhaps outside these pages he's not too well-known. Which is a damn pity of course. 'Numbered Four' was originally intended to be a 3" CDR for Kissy Records (which I believe no longer exists), but now comes a single, twenty minute piece on A Question Of Re-Entry, which is closely connected to Editions_Zero. Knowing mister Meelkop just a little bit, the cover stating, 'put together in two thousand five for my boys', perhaps hints towards the sources of the sound: either echo recordings of his unborn children (the last one was born in 2005), or perhaps, running around the house, stumbling over toys and making field recordings out of that. But as always, one doesn't have to think about this too much, as Meelkop treats his sounds beyond recognition and here it's no different. Crackles, hiss, static sound, loops of mechanical objects, are all used to craft a highly intelligent piece of music, in which silence plays the usual role (roel?) of importance but there are elements of surprise too. Collage methods are also important. Simply a great piece, much along the lines (insert more name dropping here) M. Behrens and R. Chartier. (FdW) Address:

Two new releases on Housepig Records and of an varying quality. Pulse Emitter is one Daryl Groetsch from Portland, who plays music as such since 2002. 'Pulse Emitter played modular synthesizer to magnetic tape' it reads on the cover. And so it sounds. Turning knobs is fun indeed and with perhaps some imagination one could relate this to the 'non-keyboard electronics' of Conrad Schnitzler, but the four pieces in the end are too noisy and too chaotic, or perhaps too haphazardly improvised to make any serious waves around here. More torture than planetary.
For reasons unknown, also Bjerga/Iversen refer to the cosmos, and by now they have released over thirty CDRs. Their quality went up for a while, after what was perhaps a too quick of a start, but since time they are quite solid. Much of their work is generated through live improvisation on 'amplified objects and electronix' (hence the many releases) and 'Cosmic Surgery' is not the strongest work I heard by the two, but in their vast career, this is not a bad one. Dark drones played on a guitar and sizzling, sparkling electronics to go along. As said not entirely cosmic in a krautrock sense either, but when noise, drone and psychedelics meet up it could be here. (FdW) Address:

Hot on the heels of last week's review of their full length album, there is now a new release on CDR format by The Domestic Front, a.k.a. Thomas Transparent, from Chicago and it's something of a small conceptual album here. Transparent fed all sorts of data files from his computer - which were all but sound related - into a wave editor and created music out of that. You could try this at home too, but you will see it's easier done than said. Much of the data will be just noise. The Domestic Front is not afraid of noise, but he knows how to carve some interesting  music out of these files, or perhaps many hours of careful throwing away, and looping the interesting bits around. It's throughout noisier than 'Having Achieved Balance' from last week, even linked to Chefkirk's work, but throughout I was more convinced about this one than many of Chefkirk rhythm 'n noise excursions. (FdW)

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