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Vital Weekly 564

img  Tobias

Two albums of improvisation and two albums of percussive sounds. And all three are new names for me. Micheal Evans and Jeff Arnal hail from New York where they make their marks on the improvisation scene. They both play conventional drum kits and they play it in a rather conventional manner. I must admit I do like improvised music on compact disc, even when it's usually better live, but I have a problem with this one. It starts out vivid and wild, but in this endless stream of percussion sounds it needs a point of quietness, but they keep rolling on. Half the tracks would have had the same impact, or perhaps even a bigger one, as far as I'm concerned.
Of more interest I think is the disc by Jesse Stewart (who is from Canada) who plays percussive music on a bunch of found objects, such as metal, stone and objects in water. Moving away from the conventional percussive music, Stewart plays nine short, and highly diverse pieces of music. Carefully strumming the objects, finding sounds and exploring them. Ringing and sustaining by repetitive playing, this is a great work. The works are placed not in three blocks but mixed together, so that the diversity is maintained throughout this work. Not quite onkyo as Stewart doesn't too much silence or plays the real drum kit in a different way, but Stewart has his own way of approaching the percussion at hand, and in doing so, he is spot on. Great CD! (FdW) Address:

MECHA/ORGA - 56:24 (CD by Absurd)
The name Mecha/orga keeps popping up in Vital Weekly and though not entirely a household name, it should be one, at least some day. His new CD could be of great help to achieve this. Mecha/orga is the name chosen by Yiorgis Sakellariou from Greece, who works since time under this guise (and plays regular music as well under various other guises and in various other capacities). The work, indicated by it's length, was created one afternoon in february last year, and played live there after a couple of time. No bullshitting about. The length becomes the title, and the listener can come up with his or her own story. Mecha/orga plays drone music. On a laptop. How much more simple can it get? Or rather does it have to be complex? No it doesn't. Over the course of the fifty-six minutes and twenty-four seconds Yiorgis Sakellariou plays a slowly unfolding piece of drone music, which seems to be growing in intensity throughout. When you think nothing more can be added, he adds another layer. And another. And another. Most suitable to play in the dark, at night and ghostly activities will surely occur. Or during the day, outside and watching plants grow. Multi-purpose music, I'd say. Great stuff. Powerful music.
On the same label a split CDR release by Sudden Infant and Bill Kouligas. I never heard of the latter, but apparently he is the new partner in Joke Lanz' Sudden Infant project and also a member of the Greek duo Family Battle Snake. Sudden Infant has been running for close to twenty years now, but in recent years I haven't been keeping up with his recorded output. The five pieces captured here were recorded live in 2004 in London. Sudden Infant combines noise and performance, and captured on a disc, it leaves us with noise. It's hard to tell what he does, but it seems to me a handful of analogue sound effects and a bunch of toys, microphones and perhaps a turntable. Not uninteresting, but it sounded a bit like I thought it would. And pretty much the same goes for the five pieces by Kouligas, but it's slightly more boring, or perhaps less imaginative. A barrage of noise, feeding of through echo and reverb units and some clattering of objects. (FdW) Address:

CHRISTOF MIGONE - TROU (Book + DVD by Galerie De l"Uqam)
The work of Christof Migone has been reviewed before in Vital Weekly, but it dealt always with one aspect of that work: the music, released on the compact disc that was reviewed. Migone however is also a visual artist, and much of his work is shown in his home town Montreal, so its likely that you or me didn't see that work. Until now that is. With 'Trou' we don't get the real thing, but it gives the idea. 'Trou' is compiled by Nicole Gringas and is an exhibition of various Migone multimedia works, such as films, installations and sound work. I could try to explain what his work is about, but it would mean I would have to retype Gringas book. In short, many of the works by Migone deal with body, with sound and with language. The body farts, makes the sound of cracking bones (both of these were used to make music), but also produced the installation 'Spit', which is a bottle of collected spit. Conceptual work, but it has a great visual and audio power. To make things more complete this hardcover book  has DVD of various works. Of these all of them, except 'P' and 'Surround (360 objects)' deal with the human body. In 'Poker' we see two faces at the time and they are being 'touched' ('poked') for sound, which is kinda poetic. In 'Snow Storm' dandruff produces the title and in 'Evasion' we are confronted with the human tongue, but no doubt the small screen at home works less effective than the full screen in the gallery space. The films are quite short (ranging from less than a minute to twelve minutes), and open up the fascinating world of Christof Migone. Still not the real thing, as the exhibition is the real thing, but it's a fine substitute. (FdW) Address:

MLEHST - I AM, I WAS, I WILL ALWAYS BE (LP by Belief Recordings)
Mlehst is back and we should take notice. Two pieces of 12" vinyl, filled with three sides of Mlehst and one with Runzelstirn & Gurgelstock - another legend. To start with the latter. 'Sex' is the theme here, but luckily it's not the usual cut up of porn movies. Sound wise this is an unusual Runzelstirn & Gurgelstock record. Some elements are still in there, like the extensive use of voices and shouting, but the hasty cut-up/collage work is not really present here. Instead they use samples of an orchestral nature and sounds go on instead of being fractured and scattered. It departures from their previous work, but still maintains a high quality. On the other side there is Mlehst with a highly interesting piece of musique concrete type of collage. Electronic sounds fly about while there is also cut-ups of acoustic sounds. It seems, but I may be wrong, that Mlehst returned to using reel-to-reel machines to chop up, speed up those sounds. Quite a vibrant piece of music.
On 'I Am, I Was, I Will Always Be' Mlehst takes things into another direction. The title track is the source of all the music on this album. A layered drone of synthesizer sounds, quite simple. It is the starting point of the ten tracks that follow. Each is treated in a different way. Sometimes working the higher regions and sometimes only the lower regions, which are the first four steps taken on side a. On side B things are expanded. A rhythm occurs, basically a simple loop, or becoming more noise related. Less vibrant than the piece of the split LP, each of these pieces is a monochrome composition in itself. Though not entirely a new idea at work here, Mlehst does a fine job. Certainly the second side has to offer some interesting pieces. Crude, rough but it stays on the more interesting side of noise. (FdW) Address:

Musician and visual artist Hal Rammel has been involved in art, and I know he has released a CD or two in the past, but somehow they didn't stick in my mind. Rammel is the inventor of the Sound Palette. This is a construction made of wood and metal which he plays in an improvising manner. He has built several ones in various shapes and sizes. A strange sort of hectic sound occurs when these are strummed or stroked, but even more odd is that there is a calm and relaxing texture to these recordings. Minimal but in a non-repetitive way. Perhaps the closest thing to say, is that there is something ethnic about these recordings, a bit like gamelan, but then in a more random, chaotic way. The b-side is more about rubbing the sticks and is even more chaotic. A nice record, but I wonder if a whole CD could be of similar interest. Perhaps seeing it live would be the real thing. (FdW)

Behind the work 'Wilhelmina's Dream' is one Joe Frawley from Norwich, Connecticut, who is both a composer and a visual artist. This is my first encounter with his music. Frawley plays piano and electronics on this release, but that's only half the story. Frawley is also an expert of stealing interesting sounds from others. Much of the material we hear on this release is lifted from classical sources, such as Maurice Ravel, Sergeij Prokofiev and some Meredith Monk. Frawley blends these sources together in quite a beautiful way. Plunderphonics is never my thing very much, but Frawley does a fine job. He loops around small specific parts, intercepts them with taped voices and his own piano playing, as well as his own careful blend of electronics and field recordings. Soft and not very outspoken, Frawley plays a nice play of mood music. I was reminded of some more of the spooky recordings of Nurse With Wound, but Frawley keeps things on a more quiet level. The fact that he lifted a few sound sources here and there doesn't bother me at all, as they are all cleverly intervowen into the overall music. Mood music of a highly original kind. (FdW)

By major exception a somewhat older release by Laurent Dailleau and Kasper T. Toeplitz. Both are known as composers of electronic music by way of computer techniques. In this hour long work, they pay hommage to the Velvet Underground's piece 'The Gift', in which John Cale recites the text on one channel and on the other the band plays. That is exactly what Dailleau and Toeplitz do, except that they both make music, no words here and that they cross channels. Who starts left, ends right and vice versa. Without hearing each others work it was put together by the label, which if one hears the end result is a bit hard to believe. It's a powerful work of static computer drones, with some extreme filtering going on, moving on all dynamic levels of the piece. A work that has a menacing sound and that is probably best played in the dark to get the full haunted experience. Maybe a bit long, clocking at sixty minutes, whereas perhaps forty-five would have been suited as well, but it's a fine work in which the concept doesn't stand in the way of the listen-ability of the piece. (FdW) Address:

"These banal objects, technological objects, virtual objects, are the new strange attractors , the new objects beyond aesthetics, transaesthetic, these fetish- objects with no signification, no illusion, no aura, no value that are the mirror of our radical disillusionment of the world. There lies the pataphysical irony of the situation. All metaphysics is brushed aside by this reversal of the situation where the process no longer originates with the subject .. the object refracts the subject and subtly, using all our technologies, imposes its presence and its aleatory form.." this is such bad academic practice but I was almost tempted to pass of the above without reference to its subject - Jean Baudrillard - as it precisely elucidates the problematic regarding 'noise'.  It removes the problematic completely - and reverses the process - noise represents the fetishisation of music. Its tones and themes and technologies both sexual and technological fetishes / bondage et al. arises from the object - of the post modern world and locates itself - creates the subject - in vast quantities - via typically  the CDR - (Mutant Apes over 100 already). The review therefore must start and end in my opinion in the fetishisation of the object - brilliantly realized by Merzbow - but brilliantly realized here again.  (jliat) Address:

For those who are not in the direct area of the Dutch Breda and therefor missing out on Machinefabriek's 'luisterpost' music, there is this little CD. I have no idea what 'Luisterpost' is, but I assume it's some nice environment where a specially composed piece of music is heard. Curated by Martijn Homan, Machinefabriek is the first in 2007 to do one. He takes the cello, as played by Aaron Martin, and feeds it through his array of electronics and create a dense, layered piece of electronics in a deep, atmospheric mood. Slightly distorted, so that it doesn't entirely hit the ambient wall, this is a sturdy Machinefabriek piece. The original sound pieces by Martin are also present on this disc, although I'm not sure why. Perhaps a 'do-it-yourself' intention? Or perhaps a show-off: see what I can do with the original? Let's say, the first option, to stay on the positive side. There is some mighty transformation done on the original. And if in Breda hop by the gallery to see what it sounds like (see announcement section). (FdW)

BAI+IAN - ANTI-SOUND (MP3 by AudioTong)
EMITER.ARSZYN - 07.11.05 (MP3 by AudioTong)
Bai+ian is a young sound artist from Chengdu/China and although he has already participated in various events (among others an exhibition in London) this EP is his debut release. The main ingredients here are sine waves and processed field recordings, and obviously this positions Bai+ian's work in territories that have been explored in depth by others before. But this is not necessarily bound to be a bad thing, on the contrary. Bai+ian cleverly juxtaposes contemplative moments and harsher passages, mixing city sounds like birds, cars and children with bleeps and abstract textures and keeping the material minimal, yet in steady motion. The EP reaches its best moments in the last two tracks, when it gets all quiet, with flowing sine waves, subdued field recordings and a gentle humming drone setting in later. Clocking in at about 20 minutes in total, this is a nice and fully coherent introduction to a new artist from a country that is still a little known area on the map of experimental music.
The release by Emiter.Arszyn documents a concert the Polish duo played in Prague in 2005. Although both of them have a background in more 'traditional' music (as a guitarist and a drummer), their music is of an abstract, highly electronic nature here. Rhythm, in the form of a constant pulse, plays the main role, and at times the music is vaguely reminiscent of SND's static funk or a less bleak and less minimal version of Pan Sonic. However, these mentioned names are just loose associations, since Emiter.Arszyn succeed very well in developing their own position. Going from the delicate to (almost) full-range noise, the duo uses a rich and well-balanced palette of electronic sounds, from which they craft three warm, pulsating and ever-evolving pieces. The harsh moments come in about halfway through the disc, disrupting the overall mellow flow, yet still blending perfectly in the composition. Only towards the very end the music tends loose its focus, but this is not really a problem, since all the rest is high quality material. (Magnus Schaefer)

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

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