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Vital Weekly 563

img  Tobias

This is good news! Eight years after the slipping away of Bryn Jones - the man behind the incredible ethno-electronic project Muslimgauze - Soleilmoon Recordings has just released a brand new Muslimgauze-album. The intelligent reader might wonder how a new album can be released so many years after his passing away back in early January of 1999! The simple, yet quite extraordinary, answer to this question is, that Bryn Jones had so much to express musically that he had new materials ready for release on an almost weekly basis. The number of albums released after his death approaches the number of albums that was launched while Bryn Jones was still active. The driving force of Muslimgauze was to express his sympathy for the Muslim people. The combination of this and the fact that Bryn Jones was an incredible artist of electronic sound, resulted in a countless number of personal albums, combining ethnic expressions of the Middles East with pioneering electronics. This new album titled "Speaker of Turkish" presents the more downbeat-side of Muslimgauze. Despite its ambient approach it still contains the abrasive and rough moments that separated Muslimgauze from most other artist from the ethno-electronic scene. Consisting of only six tracks there is some quite lengthy tracks giving space to ritualistic and hypnotic moments, thanks to the great repetitive and minimalist approach. The rich amount of samples of everything from tables, sitars to Middle-Eastern voices and choirs works excellent with the innovating experimentation of electronic sounds. "Speaker of turkish" is a great exploration into Eastern atmospheres what this might carry of beauty and ugliness. Essential
Muslimgauze! (Niels Mark Pedersen) Address:

EDWARD KA-SPEL - EYES, CHINA DOLL (CD by Beta Lactam-ring Records)
In the series of re-releases of Edward Ka-Spel albums, this is probably the one I was most looking forward to, since Eyes, China Doll (second in the series of "China Dolls" albums) is, simply put, a beautiful album. Originally released on vinyl in 1985 on Play It Again Sam was , this was Ka-Spel's second solo album. On this album he joins forces with Dutch filmmusic composer Hero Wouters, whose influence is obvious. Musically there is a lot going on; there are strange little sounds, samples and environmental bits and pieces thrown in, which give the stark yet clear synthesizer/sequence-based songs an extra dimension. Eyes, China Doll is a typically mid-80s album, but has aged remarkably well. This is because the songmaterial is strong and unique. Ka-Spel's distinctive lyrics (his wordplay is one of his best talents) are more like little poems set to music. Personally I love all tracks on this album, but a special mention must be made for Hotel Rouge, the opus magnum of this album. Here the combination of the lyrics, song and collaboration between Ka-Spel and Wouters is probably best illustrated. This re-release comes in a nifty strong carton gatefold with the beautiful cover art by Steven Stapleton fully intact. As expected, there are a number of bonus tracks of which Blowing Bubbles I (nothing like Blowing Bubbles II on the album) is of most interest. The more abstract History Book is interesting as it has Silverman and Stret Majest Alarme (of the Dots) playing on it as well. (Freek Kinkelaar) Address:

Already the 7th release in the highly impressive re-release series by Korm Plastics. Originally released by Touch in the summer of 1989, this was the first CD by The Hafler Trio. Ignotium Per Ignotius stands for unknown to the very unknown, which is as much a mystery as the other Hafler Trio CD with a Latin title from that period "E Causa Ignota" - by unknown cause). Releases by The Hafler Trio are never "easy listening" and Ignotum Per Ignotia no exception. This is a brief CD (clocking in at 36 minutes), which for once is a good thing, as there is much to experience. The music seems based upon silence and noise. There are long periods of silence and then suddenly there's an outpouring of noise. The noise is multi-layered and even though this is a difficult Hafler CD to listen to, there is a strange quality and attractiveness in the music. McKenzie obviously knows what he is doing. There are track titles listed on the sleeve, but the music is coded as one long piece. The CD comes packed in the usual high standard of this series in a wrap-around sleeve with a booklet featuring beautiful graphics and a text in mirrored writing. Not that the text is very helpful towards explaining the music (Hafler Trio texts never give the game away but only add to it), but it is an interesting read. This is a good-looking release and, if you give it some time and attention, you will find the music equally good (or even better)! (Freek Kinkelaar)

Brian Eno set the tone for ambient music, but also made the connection ambient and space, and from there a consistent line can be followed, from The Orb's 'UF Orb' to Arecibo 'Trans Plutonian Transmissions'. Somehow it's nice to have all this floating music and think of being weightless, so why not dedicate another album to space travels. According to the cover of the double CD by Hubert Noi Johannesson and Howie B it takes eight and half minutes to reach the earth's orbit and it takes ninety minutes to circle the earth once. Welcome to the soundtrack of this trip. Although this album is just released, it has been produced in the years 1998-2002. Even by those dates this is music wise an album that is pretty outdated (which says nothing about being bad, boring or some such). Lengthy travels on synthesizers, arpeggio's and stretched drone like patterns. Also the techno rhythm is to a small extent in there. It's all there in this ninety minute cosmic trip. A bit like the Orb/KLF's Space project (oops, again), but less the collage like elements. This is ambient house as it should be, a classic model from the early mid-nineties, but newly built. It's a most pleasant ride through the weightless space, and on a cold but highly sunny Tuesday morning it's great music to wake up by.
Behind Infra Red Army is one Dmitry Soroka from the Ukraine, a country with a growing community of electronic musicians, with whom he is in contact. Nexsound, the label of Andrey Kirichenko and Kotra, released his first album in the MP3 format. Now it's time for his first real CD. Originally Soroka played guitar, but then moved to electro-acoustic music and on his first CD he brings a mixture of ambient loaded synthesizers, theremin like glissandi with strange lounge like rhythms, broken beats and trip hop like beats although a bit faster. However one can not put him the corner of the UK protagonists on Highpoint Lowlife or Expanding. Soroka's ambience is a dark one, as this whole album is covered with a dark and deep atmospheric sound, that leaves not much room for light. Throughout listening to this album, I kept thinking: do I like this, or do I think it's just ok? Is the dark, sombre tone fitting my taste, well yes perhaps, but at the same time, it not always seem to fit the rhythm part of it. Sometimes it seemed an uneasy marriage. But it's an album that doesn't easy give away it's beauty, and raises more questions than that it provides with answers. Certainly one to investigate more due time.
Likewise I never heard of Fractal Heads, but judging by the names of the involved musicians, I assume they originate from the Eastern part of Europe too: Sergey Malkin and Dmitry Kravchook. Again Laton releases a work that was recorded some time ago, 1999 in this case, but for some reason has been lying around until now. From the three albums by Laton presented here, I thought this was the weakest one. Analogue synthesizers playing ambient like notes (hardly big time drones here or anything), taped voices, simple sequenced rhythms. Throughout the tracks were too long and didn't contain that much information or lacked the quality to be trance like to keep my interest going on. Perhaps I am missing a point entirely here (which is very well possible of course), but I think Fractal Heads could have done a nice CDR, but didn't necessarily have to step up to the format of a compact disc. (FdW)

PAPIRO - AVVENTURE LONTANE (LP by  Some Fine Legacy/A Tree In A Field)
According to the insert with this album, Papiro's live performances in the past have consisted of playing one note continuous at obsessively volumes. Luckily this album is nothing like that. In fact, this fully instrumental album has a considerate amount of notes - and even melody. These days, Papiro (a classically trained violist) likes his instruments to have more than one key and to date from a  pre-programmable era. An impressive array of analogue synthesizers is therefore listed on the back of the sleeve. The music on this fascinating album has a melodic, upbeat character, harking back to analogue synthesizer days, which was extremely popular in Germany in the late 70s-early 80s. Papiro's music owns much to the works of Roedelius, Asmus Tietchens (on his Hematic Sunset albums) or even Bruce Haack, but comes off original enough to stand on its own. As a whole, this album is perfectly suited for any retro-styled party. All hail therefore to the groovy glow-in-the-dark cover, which fits the music like a dream. (Freek Kinkelaar)

If I am correct Travis Just is a musician who is partly based in New York, and partly in Berlin. He plays saxophone, and his work is partly based in improvisation and partly in modern composition. An example of the latter is found on 'The only Way To Reform Modern Lettering'. It's a bit hard to describe what it is all about, but it deals with 'a single pitch of an alto saxophone', which are recorded on a minidisc, and then live instruments, in this case flute and tenor, play similar pitches. Alongside there is the sound of a conversation, but I am not sure what that has to do with it. The piece is highly minimal, but lengthy sustaining sounds and occasional bits of talking, which are far away - it could have been as easily something that was recorded during a live concert, with some audience noise. On the same disc there is also the piece 'Nationalism In America', for 'tenor saxophone, zither and television set', which has five section of each minutes. The television is played once for ten and once for thirty seconds. Otherwise this is a very quiet piece of music. Soft slow pitches of sound, an occasional pluck on the zither. It's a bit hard to relate to the title of the piece, but both sound very nice. A bit like Morton Feldman with respect to the sparseness of notes played.
More action (?) is on the disc of improvised music, a trio of Just on tenorsaxophone, Anne Vortisch on electronics and Frank Eickhoff on computer. It's not really a loud disc or anything, but there is more going on than on the previous disc. Still the areas of letting the saxophone sustain, but the electronic sounds from both ends (analogue I assume and digital) form a nice addition to the saxophone, and in total make a very intense and powerful twenty minute piece. Kind of musique concrete, electro-acoustic and minimal music in one package, and that works, perhaps oddly enough, quite well. (FdW) Address:

Z'EV - METAPHONICS (CDR by Eter Production)
The ever so, and even more now, active force of z'ev sees him playing around the world, and occasionally with the people of Polish ritual music makers Hati. They now release a work by z'ev that was recorded two years ago in London. Metaphonics is a term 'for what is now generally referred to as Sacred Music', it says on the cover: 'that is, a music whose intent is to alter consciousness or to transpose between states of consciousness and/or levels of reality/ies'. I didn't follow z'ev recommendation of listening in total darkness, but I can sense what he is about. In the thirty-five minutes, z'ev depicts a semi-industrial landscape. A tape-composition of sounds floating about, using the stereo spectrum to it's full capacity, but which at the same time still shows z'ev's interest in rhythmic music. There is a strong rhythmic feel to the music, which might be occurring due to the massive level of layered the sounds, which are slightly out of phase, going from one speaker to the other. After following his career for the last twenty-five or more years, I must say that his recent shift into using more and more studio based composition, is a great one. Not many of his recent releases let me down, and 'Metaphonics' is no different. A strong, dense mass of sound. Even in some light. (FdW) Address:

XEDH - RENCLOSER (MP3 by Picomedia)
These three new works by Xedh, also known as Miguel A. Garda from Spain, show a departure from the previous noise related releases. Whereas his previous releases (see Vital Weekly 445 and 523) were released on CDR, these three are released as MP3, which is a pity, because they would have deserved to be released as CDR as well, me thinks. On 'Somos Buena Gente' we find the original Xedh track and three remixes. The original piece is the total opposite of the previous work: a really calm piece of drone music, made out of electric static signals, recorded almost below the threshold of hearing. A great piece. It gets remix treatments from Tüsuri, which basically sounds the same. Loty Negarti and Plagasul at least do something and both of them spices things up and makes the waves cascade. Nice one indeed.
On 'Rencloser' things are approached from an entirely different perspective. Rhythm plays an important here. Hectic and nervous, the sound of the chaos in a big city, always in motion, but the deep end bass sound and humming of drones, make this foremost a nocturnal affair. Three short tracks of big city paranoia. For those who love releases on Ant-Zen or Ad Noiseam.
On 'Composition In Red' only one track, spanning twenty-three minutes and combines the best of both ends: it has rhythm, but in very cut-up, collage like fashion, with ambient like synths. Maybe at twenty three minute quite an epos, but together with his own version of 'Somos Buena Gente' his best work to date. (FdW)

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

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