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Vital Weekly 565

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In another life I had many dealings with O Yuki Conjugate (and whose music I still listen to it this life), but even in life before that I was aware of them. It must be around twenty years ago, when I saw them playing live locally, and that made a big impression. Although seemingly coming from the underground noise music as I was interested in, O Yuki Conjugate played ambient music, taking the inspiration from both Eno and ethnic, and releasing some classic albums of the genre that is called ambient or ambient house: 'Peyote' and 'Equator'. There was perhaps a time that they could push for star status, but for whatever reason that didn't happen. The members were active in many side projects, such as A Small Good Thing (adding slide guitars), Sons Of Silence (more rhythm) and ALP (experimental soundscaping), but in the recent years not much was heard from all of this and now there is this come-back album (if we may call it like that), which comes in a great cover, a sort plastic transparent tile attached to the digipack. Stripped down to the three core members Andrew Hulme, Roger Horberry and new man Rob Jenkins, 'The Euphoria Of Disobedience' is not another classic landmark, which would hardly be possible, since the genre is explored very well and has had it defining moments (also through the previous O Yuki Conjugate albums). The instruments is a list of old and new gear, such as a modular synthesizer, a prophet 5, a minimoog but also something that is an ipod bass. O Yuki Conjugate play ambient music, still with a big A: watery colored sounds, sometimes without much shape, but throughout whatever it sounds like it's music that is so recognizable for them, even when the ethnic percussion is kept to a minimum here. Like the sun this morning shining through clouds, barely visible, so is the music of O Yuki Conjugate. It's audible of course, but it doesn't force it self upon the listener, nor is it too far away in the sense of aural wallpaper. It's, as said, not a classic album, but surely a most wellcome come back album. And hopefully to stay around for some time again. (FdW) Address:

Music by Cor Fuhler has been reviewed before in these pages, but one has to know where to look. Fuhler has been a duo with Gert-Jan Prins under the name of The Flirts, of whom I once saw a brilliant concert, but also improvising with anybody in the Dutch improvisation scene, and beyond, such as with Mimeo. His main instrument is the piano, but "he seeks to take it musically beyond usual perceptions, specializing in sustained sounds with use of various string stimulators: 12 ebows, rotating threads, spinning disks". In addition Fuhler also plays an EMS synthi AKS, as well as building his own instruments, such as a violin with keys: the keyolin. On his new solo CD, he plays an 'acoustic grand piano, using ebows and super magnets. No overdubs, no electronics, no electronic treatment'. Which is something I read on the cover after I heard the CD. Fuhler could have fooled me. I recognized indeed the piano, and yes, there are long sustained overtones, but just as easily I could have thought there was electronic treatment in these subtle walls of droning and sustaining sounds, with sparse interception by the piano itself. So there are none. Wow! Along the lines of Alvin Lucier, but in a much more musical context. Whereas much of Lucier's work stays on the somewhat clinical and conceptual sides of things, Fuhler expands beyond it, and makes great, careful music. It hardly sounds like a disc of improvisation music, as one may expect from this label, but more a disc of composed music. Great stuff. (FdW) Address:

SHUTTLE 358 - FRAME (CD by 12K)
The Moskitoo release is no less than a big surprise. It's a daring move for 12K, I must say. Moskitoo is one Sanae Yamasaki from Sapporo in the northern part of Japan and she is a painter and a musician. She plays guitar, metallophone, organ, synthesizers and sings. Especially the latter feature is a rarity we hardly see on 12K. In a way one could have imagined this to be on Happy, the 12K for strange popmusic, but Moskitoo is more like 12K music. Soft, quiet synthesizer sounds, strange processings of the the acoustic instruments, beats that are rather scattered than poly rhythmic and the whispering vocals of Sanae herself. Rather than compositions of a certain length, she plays popmusic of a highly introspective kind. Whilst I must admit I am not always a big fan of vocals like this, I think it's quite a daring move of 12K to go into the field of popmusic, even when it's more abstract than what the radio would tell and which of this nature is quite popular in Japan. In terms of'steps forward', 'innovation' and 'changing directions' the most important release by 12K in some time, and quite a good one too!
First time around I missed out reviewing Shuttle 358s 'Frame' release. Behind Shuttle is Dan Abrams, who releases also as Optimal and under his own name. 'Frame' was released in 2000 and is still a good sign of that time. Abrams uses clicks, glitches, skipping beats and textural processed hiss to generate his music. Per track things move only slowly with changes that seem to occur only a minimal level. Even when Abrams uses rhythms this is nowhere near dance music or anything such. The main thing is to create an ambience, a blank, empty ambience that is. Music like that on Frame set the tone for much microsound like music from the years to follow. If that particular part of history went unnoticed by you, this is your change to pick up on it. Good to see back in print. (FdW)

HEAL - STARTING BACK (CD by Sound On Probation)
Seven years it took for Laurent Perrier to come up with a new CD as Heal (see Vital Weekly 227). Not lazyness, far from it, as he has been busy with many new projects (under his own name, but also as Zonk't), which are usually released on his own Sound On Probation label. The first release as Heal, 'Extension' had laidback techno dub songs with a big role for the voice. On 'Starting Back' this is however no longer the case. The music has changed to hip hop like beat, jazzy keyboard lines and lots of crazy synthesizer bits. Perrier samples whatever he can find, such as organs, trumpets, orchestral bits and comes up with fifteen (to which I can immediately say: a bit too much) tracks of high energy music. A bit poppy, a bit jazzy, dubby but throughout highly enjoyable. As said, perhaps a bit long, whereas ten tracks would have made the same big impact, this is simply a very fine techno inspired release that has to offer a lot more. (FdW) Address:

2000 SCHØEN - YOSHIWARA (CD by Kafue Systeme)
Three new releases from German label KAFUE Systeme have seen the light of the day. And it is quite different expressive styles that are represented on the albums. The album titled "… travel to eternity" is the third shot from the artist Alien Skull Paint. The two previous albums were out on the Genetic Music label. "… travel to eternity" opens with a few tracks of minimal electro added some English vocals with German accent (reminiscent of the vocals of Kraftwerk's Florian Schneider). As the album progresses the music moves into other expressional spheres. The track titled "The beginning of the end" seems like the turning point: A beautiful track of melancholia added some excellent guitar works that helps opening the gates for more goth-punk oriented expressions. From the electro-style that first of all sounded similar to early Gary Numan/Tubeway Army and Kraftwerk, the last third part of the album more similarity with Joy Division, especially thanks to guitars of Oliver Castens as well as the dark vocals not too far away from Joy Division's vocalist Ian Curtis. Great work!   "Maximum hate" - the latest album from Missratener Sohn - is quite another beast. All signs of traditional music instruments are totally annihilated by the cynic electronics of this German project leaded by Dennis Schnaithmann. The sounds transmitted from the black machinery of Missratener Sohn is overwhelming and does not leave much sign of happiness into the dark hour of "Maximum hate". Drones of distorted electronics swirls inside repetitive rhythm-textures and evil processed vocals sounding like of satan himself. Greatest moments appear in the minimalist power noise track "Totes herz" and the atmospheric yet extremely sinister masterwork "Nightmare killer". Listeners of the Ant-Zen-label's harsh power noise- repertoire as well as of legendary German project "Wumpscut" will love this trip into sonic darkness on "Maximum hate". Another radical change in expression comes with the third release from Kafue Systeme titled "Yoshiwara". "Yoshiwara" is also the name of a prostitute area of the 17 th century's Tokyo just like it was the name of the nightclub in Fritz Lang's movie "Metropolis" (1927) where the main character Maria worked as an exotic dancer. This very interesting album by German composer 1000Schøen could well be the soundtrack for a 21 st century's edition of the Fritz Lang's legendary futuristic movie. Taking its starting point in the world of ambience the intense work circulates in sonic worlds of buzzing noise drones and otherworldly spheres of melodic beauty. Thus being both dramatic and harmonic in expression the album changes between short tracks and long conceptual tracks with the third track (all tracks are untitled!) clocking 26+ minutes. "Yoshiwara" is a remarkable work of experimental ambient. With these three very different albums, Kafue Systeme, demonstrates its wide approach to electronic sound, and the musical quality is in all three cases
impressively high! (Niels Mark) Address:

Unfortunately and regrettable Greg Headley is not a common name, even when he has released a couple of things in the last few years. For his new release he moves away from his guitar and treatments and composes his pieces. He found the structure for his pieces in the ancient playwright Aeschylus and Pauline Reage's 'Story Of O'. 'There Comes A Violent Love' has four parts. They consist of piano, organ and flute sounds and are meditative in approach. Headley plays some nice tunes, and is in no way similar to his previous release. This radical break with his previous work, which was good, but this is even better. Serious music by a serious guy.
The fifth piece on this release is 'Pulse', dedicated to the performance artist of many extreme things Marina Abramovic and is a duet for two synthesizers, based, just as much of Abramovic's work on repetition and duration. Long sustaining sounds with a highly ambient character, this is not extreme music, but one that requires nothing else than patience to let it capture you. I think it's a truly beautiful piece, slowly evolving, slowly changing. Very nice. His best release so far. (FdW)

The Elvis Coffee label is no longer, 'Pendulum' is the last release. But there is no reason to be sad, since the same people founded a new label, Quiet World. There is also a fanzine called Wonderful Wooden Reasons, which reminded me of the old Vital, when we knew what paper looked like. Psychic Space Invasion is basically Ian Holloway playing with friends, and it's indeed psychic and space like music. 'Pendulum' continues the work that started with the previous release 'All God's Children Space', except that now we are dealing with six tracks. Like the previous, Psychic Space Invasion loves the drone music. Still it's hard to say what it is that is done here. It might be a synthesizer or a simple organ, fed through a delay and/or some reverb, but it makes pretty strong music. There is a strange sense of rhythm going on (perhaps they are using the old casio SK-1 samplers), that indeed tick like the pendulum at my grandmother's house once did. Trance inducing music for sure. Rather simple made, but with great effect. A proof that expensive equipment is not always leading to good results. A good idea counts too! (FdW) Address:

TOMAS KORBER & BERND SCHURER - 250904 (CDR by Balloon & Needle)
Slowly the world of experimental of music is no longer limited to a few western countries and Japan. Balloon & Needle is a small label from Seoul in South Korea, but for their first release they have some Westerns to play the music. Wether that is a pity or that maybe Korean music will come later, I simply don't know. Tomas Korber, who usually plays guitar and electronics but he restricts to electronics and Bernd Schurer who plays computer played a gig in a squat in Zürich in 2004. Apart from the opening which is really loud, the remainder seventeen minutes are very quiet, with lots of careful feedback/sine waves sounds and crackles of a contact microphone. Everything is of course improvised, but in the usual delicate manner. Sounds fade in and fade out, moving through various textures and spaces. It's a powerful piece that requires intense listening. It's like what both do usually, but still fine. (FdW)

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