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Vital Weekly 566

img  Tobias

Ever since I first found about Conrad Schnitzler and his music, I am a fan. But on a different level than a strict music fan. It's a bit like my appreciation for the work of John Cage: great ideas about music (among many others), but I hardly play a Cage piece. I do play Conrad Schnizler's music however. For those who do not know. Schnitzler was a student of Joseph Beuys, before starting to play music with Tangerine Dream with whom made their debut album and later Cluster (their first two Lps are played at least once a year), before starting his solo career in synthesizer music. Unlike his contemporary Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream the
experiment was always more important. Playing concerts for 16 or so hours a day, which were released on cassettes, each with differentportion of thirty minutes, releasing many highly rare Lps. Schnitzler hardly uses the keyboard of a synthesizer, but twiddles around with the knobs. Currently I believe he is in early seventies but still creating music, as a complete outsider to the world of electronic music. He's not part of German cosmic music, nor microsound, but strictly goes his own way. Conrad Schnitzler produced an incredible amount of music, of which the likes of Merzbow and Muslimgauze could have ever dream off.
The piano is an instrument that he has been using before on a CD by Art Gallery years and years go, but here it is again. On his 'Klavierhelm' he returns the piano, but in a totally different fashion. He bangs the 88 keys in a totally free version. No introspection alike Satie nor the minimalism of Reich. Perhaps as free as say Cecil Taylor would play, but Schnitzler plays it really dry, almost without emotion. I could even believe he uses a computer program to create this music and have it play like Nancarrow's player piano. It took me some time to get into this, but as the disc progressed, seemingly without much change or progress throughout the CD, but in the end it was quite captivating as a total, homogenous work.
The 'Trigger Trilogy' deals with his electronic work and is divided in three different aspects thereof - one per CD. On disc one these are 'the solo pieces', in which he uses mainly one set of rhythm per piece with a few lines on the synthesizer, but usually all in a random mode. Sometimes it's the synthesizer which makes the rhythm, and some a drum computer. It's a highly stripped down version of electronic music that perhaps is only vaguely related to techno music, but it's not danceable at all. It's cold and mechanic, but has certainly something highly attractive to it. On CD two we find the 'free mix solo's'. As we will see with disc three, in the past Schnitzler played concerts by using an amount of pre-recorded cassettes of synthesizer, now of course using CDRs. These are very different but on the 'free mix solo's', he uses equal or parallel sounds per track. Perhaps it's only a minor difference but it's an important one. The music on disc two is divided in more than one track, but it sounds very much like one ongoing piece of music, that is alive and present, still in a clinical and mechanical mood, but slowly changing with the minimalism of disc one. Much more complex with more layers of slightly similar material, that move along eachother like plate tectonics. As said on the third a 'con-cert'. Schnitzler uses for his concert Cdrs with all sorts of raw materials which he uses to create a live mix. Parts of the first and second Cds in this trilogy are used here, but also other portions of sounds from the past. Again, this is a more complex than disc one, but also more varied than the somewhat singleminded disc two. Complexity here stretches out over the use of rhythm and sound color, with moody textures and uplifting rhythmic passages. If the work of Schnitzler is unknown to you, this three CD might be good introduction to his sound world, whereas the piano disc may appeal to lovers of free jazz and those with an acquired Schnitzler taste. The work of
Schnitzler doesn't always appeal to me, but it's always worth investigating and, in these two instances, one could say: the man is both outsider and genius. (FdW) Address:

Since 2000 the Brombron project offers small groups of musicians the opportunity to become artists in residence in Extrapool, an arts initiative in Nijmegen/The Netherlands, and realize a joint-project there. The 12th and 13th installment from the series come from Tetuzi Akiyama and Greg Malcolm and Jon Mueller and Martijn Tellinga respectively.
Akiyama and Malcolm go without any electronics, improvising on their guitars and almost literally weaving subtle acoustic meshes. Taking given as well as own themes and tunes as a basis, the duo creates music of a highly introspective character, utterly calm and filled with remarkable warmth and intimacy. They pluck their strings delicately, at times almost hesitatingly, gently entwining the individual notes, which seem to caress each other. According to its improvised nature, the music doesn't follow a linear logic, but its focus is rather smoothly shifting back and forth from melodic and repetitive patterns to free playing with occasional far away blues-reminiscences woven in. Along with the warm, full sound of their guitars, the balance that Malcolm and Akiyama achieve between these various aspects of their music is the most fascinating point about this release. Without ever fully entering into the territories of structured songs or free-form improvisation, they interlace melody, repetition and fragmentation and arrive at a rich and intense result, with a low key, laid-back character, yet fully absorbing.
Percussionist Jon Mueller and electro-acoustic composer and sound artist Martijn Tellinga (aka Boca Raton), explore a set-up that consists of live-sampling and processing of Mueller's playing, on top of a layer of pre-recorded material from a previous session. The triggering and processing of the pre-recorded samples is caused by the percussive input, which is at the same time providing new material. Tellinga manipulates these events in real-time, but can also bypass the triggering and play the computer as a stand-alone instrument, using the same set of sound material. This results in a stream of concise acoustic marks, arranged in a sort of non-hierarchic way, in which repetition is absent and structure appears only on a micro-level, thus putting a strong emphasis on the individual sounds or small groups of sounds. At times these sounds seem to stand erratically next to each other, while in other passages they engage in small 'dialogues' or form porous accumulations. The two distinct 'voices' remain present and clearly distinguishable throughout, with the percussive work ranging from familiar figures, like, say, a short drum roll, to nearly-electronic sounding abstractions and the electro-acoustic counterpart consisting of a palette of sharp and precise clicks, clatters and whirls. It was probably a very good choice to release this as a mini CD, since this format seems very appropriate for such an austere work, while it might have been difficult to sustain its quality over the length of a full CD. At three tracks and a playing time of about twenty minutes however, the controlled playing and the atmosphere of extreme concentration work well and are utterly convincing. (Magnus Schaefer) Address:

The story behind 'Second Souffle' starts in July 2003 when drummer/percussion player Steven Hess recorded a session with guitarist and piano player Sylvain Chauveau. The recordings were mixed by Helge Sten of Deathprod, and released as 'Your Naked Ghost Comes Back At Night' by Les Disques Du Soleil Et De L'acier. Story closed? No, the same recordings are subject of 'Second Souffle', but are now entirely taken apart by Pierre-Yves Mace, whom we know from his release on Sub Rosa. Its a pity that I didn't hear the first release by On, because know I have to go by the Mace mix and there is nothing to compare. Not really a big deal, since what we find here is some excellent rock glitch - if that term doesn't exist, someone should invent it. There are influences of Pluramon, certainly when the drums bang a little bit more than usual, and there are many layers of crackling electronics, sine wave like guitar sounds, introspective xylophone sounds and there is a digital post rock cum microsound atmosphere around this album. Its excellent, well-crafted, well-thought out. It's of course a bit hard for me to tell what amount of post production was done by Mace, but he produced a really excellent album. Both highly musical as well with the right amount of experimentalism in it. Perhaps the highlight of this week. (FdW) Address:

The name Andreas Bertilsson didn't set off any alarm bells here right away, but it turned out I know pretty much everything of his music. Before he was active under the name of Son Of Clay and as such produced three Cds. For whatever reason his fourth Cd is now released under his own name, and the work was started in 2005 'with the objective of describing society and the present while still trying to anchor it to something timeless and continuous that could be linked to any one period in time'. Too this end he made a list of events to record and went to a small house in the Swedish country side to finish it. But the house seemed haunted, with doors slamming, voices from ghosts and footsteps. It seemed to be a cursed album. In Malmoe, where he lives, he finished the album with no problem. Three tracks are to be found here, in total thirty minutes, of a strange but fascinating mixture of highly processed field recordings, including the aforementioned doors slamming, but also an acoustic bass and the result is far from being the usual careful glitch/microsound, as at times Bertilsson knows how to rock and things happen in a full blast. Of course the story about the haunted house is one that I have a hard time believing, but surely there is something frightening over this music. Some danger lurking around the corner, especially in the final track, when thing rock out, and the listener is still waiting something worse to happen. Maybe it's the title, but it's all quite cinematographic . (FdW) Address:

TIBETAN RED - FOUTA DJALON (CD by Gracia Territori)
The name Tibetan Red has been around since the mid eighties. I believe my first encounter with it was on a compilation LP by Freedom In A Vacuum. However almost twenty years later releases are still very few. But I do know a little bit more about the project. It's one Salvador Franesch (born in 1945) from Catalan origin, who lived for some time in Canada, but now in the Pyrenees. He is also a painter. Much of his work deals with Gurdjieff, Sufism, Shamanism, Kabala and such like. This interest can clearly be heard on this release. It continues the sound as found on his 'complete' works release from 2000: Tibetan Red creates many loops of sound and let this 'go', until he starts playing around with them. On 'Fouta Djalon' the sources are ethnic recordings, people chanting, percussive sounds and such like. There are however a whole of bunch, so that there is a densely layered pattern of these sounds. The ethnic element can still be traced to single sources, but the overall sounds more electronic than ethnic. I kept wondering wether electronic treatments had been used here, but my best guess it's not, although the highly reworked 'Fire Pilgrimage' might have some. The previous work of Tibetan Red dealt with more single minded electronic/short wave sounds, but this new direction is certainly as interesting. A great CD and I am told that the next one will be out quicker. (FdW)

KOZO INADA - J[] (CD by Sonoris)
My sympathy and love for the work of Kozo Inada didn't came straight away. His first few releases on Staalplaat were alright, but I didn't think brilliant. Coins dropped at a concert I saw by him in Barcelona. It contained the same sounds, but played at this immense volume, the listener gets sucked in it, and when the sound is gone, very fine particles remain and tease the listener further, until the next wave comes. Coming back I listened to his music with totally different ears. For reasons I don't know (it seems his private website needs updating) we don't hear much of him in the recent years, which is a great pity. 'J[]' is a new (?) work, or at least just released (on a totally different I'd like to add that Sonoris just also re-released David Maranha's 'Piano Suspenso', which we reviewed in Vital Weekly 175, so read that please). Moving away from the field recordings which Inada used in his previous releases, for this release he concentrates solely on classical music samples and loops. At first that sounded a bit cheap to me, clearly since they are not too difficult to recognize. Inada produces perfect loops that don't skip or anything, but make a sustaining wave of sound. In each of the five pieces things move slowly but steadily and Inada continues his working methods: from soft to loud, although it seems to me this time on a less radical level than before. It's again quite a powerful work, and opening up new worlds to explore for Inada. It would be great to see more of his work being available. (FdW) Address:

MEM1 - ALEXIPHARMACA (CD by Interval Recordings)
From Israel comes Mem1, which is a collaboration
between cello player Laura Thomas-Merino and laptop artist M. Cera. They don't operate as two individual units, but the laptop solely treats the sounds coming from the cello. The title of this, their second CD, comes from a set of poems written by Nicander of Colophon from Greece, who wrote about plants and animal poisons and their antidotes. For Mem1 the relationship is clear: they want their music to be richly textured but with a certain menace. As such I may say they succeeded quite nicely. The cello is bowed, plucked and strummed, while the laptop gently weeps and sweeps the sound. Indeed richly textured, even when it's played in a rather improvised fashion, it seems like there is a cloud hanging over these musics. Perhaps a cloud of plug ins waiting to rain down? Or perhaps it's covered with earth? In any case, it's a bit muffled but that adds to the drone like character of the songs. It's all quite, but as with so many releases, for the limit amount of ideas put into this, it all sounds a bit too similar and things could have been shorter. (FdW) Address:

PORT DOC.1-5 (CD compilation by Port)
My Japanese is still not up to speed to read any of the liner notes on this CD, but in conversation I picked up some of the ideas behind. 'Filmachine' is an installation piece for 24 speakers that surround the listener and on this CD there is the soundtrack to this. Of course it's not easy to capture something that is played on twenty four speakers and reduce that to two speakers, but when played on headphones you can get a sense of the spatial work. Shibuya uses field recordings which are heavily processed through max/msp patches and creates partly a dense layered sound scape, with something that sounds like airplanes and partly a more rhythm based piece (although the latter only on a small level). On these headphones those parts work best in terms of spatial division. On speakers however the more grainy 'airplane' sound work quite nice. When released now as a CD, it is cut off from the installation, and we have to enjoy it from the perspective of a CD release, and no longer as a 24speaker installation. As this is perhaps a bit short, but it's altogether a very fine release.
Along similar lines is the release by Japanese musician Evala. He plays deep bass bumps, along with processed like sine wave sounds. In each of the ten tracks he presents a different view on the material, from disjointed beats to more straight forward ones and with different shapes and colors of the sine waves. The influence of Ryoji Ikeda seems clear to me and 'Initial' can easily meet up with Ikeda's 'Dataplex' release. Quite powerful material.
On Evala's Port label there is also a compilation with just Japanese artists such as, obviously, Evala himself, but also Kozo Inada, PsysEx, Numb, Slipped Disk (which has Keiichiro Shibuya as one of the members), Com.a, Aoki Takamasa, Taeji Sawai and others. It offers a fine overview of the clicks and cuts and beats material that now sweeps the Japanese hard drives. None of these pieces stand out, but they all operate on an equally good level. (FdW)

Over here Otomo Yoshihide is mostly known because of Ground-Zero and his guitar/turntable work both solo and with many collaborators, but in Japan he has also scored loads of films over the years, this one being the most recent. I don't know anything about the film itself, which probably is a Japanese affair and won't reach these cinematic shores, but the cast of musical characters he has invited is pretty impressive: Jim O'Rourke, Tetuzi Akiyama, Sachiko M, Yasunao Tone, the master himself and various other musicians. The film must be a seriously diverse happening because these tracks go all over the Otomian spectrum, ranging from lush acoustic guitar picking (courtesy of O'Rourke) to full-on noise assault. Occasionally samples from the film come up, but they sound like just another sound source and are not used to decode any possible parallel affinities to the visuals. Also, where most soundtracks follow repeating threads and paths shown in the film, here it makes me wonder what sort  of film 'Prisoner' is, as the music here seems to follow no internal structure or narrative, apart from instruments resurfacing. Where most of Yoshihide's soundtracks are only interesting for the die-hard fans or to people acquainted with the movies, this one certainly is the exception, and is up there with his best work. (Robert Meijer) Address:

Although I can't find it on the CD or in the press text, I wonder what Marcel Duchamp's The Large Glass piece has to do with this. Perhaps nothing. In the hot summer of last year, Tomas Korber, along with his guitar, electronics and prerecorded material to the Norfolk countryside to record with Graham Halliwell, who sat there with his prepared saxophone feedback, samples and loops. The three tracks now released on 'The Large Glass' were captured in a day. It's foremost an album of silent music, with apparently, on a superficial level with not much happening. Crackles, hiss, static sound: it all happens on soft level, careful, as not to make too much of a big wave. It's peaceful music if the right volume is used. If you play this at a more present volume, small details will unfold and the feedback saxophone can be real menace. There is a lot happening on this CD but still it is peaceful. Concentration is required. It fits the vast catalogue of especially Korber quite well. Nice, very nice. (FdW) Address:


NAOKI ISHIDA - TONE REDUST (CD by Quasipop Records)
Three diverse releases on the Ukrainian Quasi Pop label. I never heard of Svyatoslav Lunyov, but he studied composition in Kiev and composed works for orchestras but also smaller ensembles and single instruments. 'Para Pacem - Para Bellum' however is partly an electronic work, and partly a work for piano, organ, violin, viola and cello. These are merged together in a work that seems to me a call for peace, but also about death and sorrow. The work is divided into sixteen parts, but belong to eachother. I must admit I wasn't blown away by it. There are introspective, textured pieces which work quite well, such as 'Anno Domini', but some of the electronics sounded a bit muddy. The overall sound is, perhaps by purpose, not very clear. Then there are some stomping rhythm pieces which seem to be out of place. It sounds like Lunyov couldn't make up his mind with what he wanted to do. It has its moments, but also it failures.
From Japan comes Naoki Ishida. From 2000 to 2003 he played in a rock band, after which he started to play at home on his acoustic guitar, adding a blend of field recordings and minimal electronics. 'Tone Redust' is his debut album. Although Quasipop rave about 'own unique music style', I must disagree. Ishida fits the current wave of 'melodic pop/microsound' very well, a trend that is very popular in Japan, where we find such releases on labels as Noble and Spekk, or in Europe with the likes of Flim and in the USA the recent Moskitoo CD on 12K. Not a problem, as Ishida surely plays a fine tune. His guitar playing is rather 'free': not strumming chords or strict finger picking, but playing whatever is necessary. The field recordings are cars passing or the sound of lighter. Unlike some of the mentioned counter parts, Ishida doesn't play 'songs', a fixed composition, but rather improvises his way through moody textures. He does a nice job at that, and that surely places him outside the rest, although it's the form and not so much the content. Perhaps some of the pieces are bit too long and the field recordings could have used a bit more variety, throughout it's a charming disc.
From Japan to Norway is a long flight, but if you arrive at Lasse Marhaug, but what Merzbow is to the land of rising sun, is Marhaug to the land of fjords. He doesn't disappoint the listener with his usual blend of noise. Although it must be said that it seems to me that Marhaug this time works more with field recordings, nicely covered up inside a barrage of noise elements. Not always easy to recognize, but if one pays close attention there is the sound of streets, airports and such like: noisy places to make more noisy music. Feedback and distortion are as always loud and clear present, but in the hands of Marhaug it makes good company. Merzbow is king, Marhaug is the heir to his throne. (FdW) Address:

SILK SAW - 8 REPORTS (CD by Ant-Zen Recordings)
11th shot from this Belgian project called Silk Saw, is a pretty unusual work, - and a very fascinating work indeed! Silk Saw, consisting of the two composers Marc Medea and Gabriel Severin, has been active as Silk Saw since 1996. On this latest album, the sound equipment counts synthesizers, drum-computers and six-string guitars. This combination ends up with a result that is best described as spacey jazz meeting weird breakbeats and subtle noises reminding of a mixture between the intelligent breakbeat-textures of breakbeat-specialist Squarepusher and some freaked-out psychedelia expressions memorizing the golden days of krautrocking Faust. The eight works is very exaggerating mixtures of subtle noise layers operating underneath nocturnal sounds of guitar-artistry, sometimes deep drones of the strings other times melancholic jazzy riffs added some waving organ sounds and complex rhythm textures. Imagine how an avantgarde jazz band of space invaders gigging in some smoky Jazz club on planet Mars would sound like. Does that sound strange? It certainly is strange and highly original! (Niels Mark Pedersen)

SUKORA - SNOW DROP (CD by Waystyx Records)
Much what comes out of Russia are bootlegs with shaby covers. It's a good thing to report that Waystyx Records aren't bootleggers, but they have a great way of presenting their releases. Small editions (somewhere between 100-250 copies) but they are all real CDs, not CDRs. We got a whole bunch and only review the most recent ones, but worth mentioning are also the re-issue of PBK 'Retro', a former 3LP set on RRRecords and now as a four CD box, in a nice handmade (although it's hard to tell) black box with a black print. The fourth CD has no music. Also worth mentioning are a double CD with re-releases of Brume's old tapes and a 2004 CD by Christian Renou, formerly known as Brume, but in his new, more drone oriented style. Dutch veterans Vance Orchestra found their last release before dissolving on Waystyx too.
The most recent release is by Oratory Of Divine Love, which is a side project of Kirchenkampf's John Gore. I remember from the previous release (see Vital Weekly 439) that all tracks were recorded in real time to DAT using radio as it's source. I am not sure if that is also the case with this new one, but if so, Gore must have a mighty big set up to feed these radio sounds into. Perhaps he uses some analogue synthesizers to trigger the sounds, and then feeds them also through a whole bunch of sound effects. 'Purgatorio' (perhaps to celebrate the fact that the vatican no longer believes in it's existence?) is one long piece of true deep drone music of a highly atmospherical kind. Very controlled, very dark. Not really cinematographic, this is more to played in the very dark and let your darkest thoughts come out. In terms of musical innovation nothing new under the sun, but it's surely a great work, perhaps even the best that came out of the Gore residency.
Perhaps an odd ball in the catalogue of Waystyx, who in general deal with the more darker and noisier side of things, is the release by Sukora. This highly obscure sound project has released some very silent things in the past, such as a CD on Meme, and here present 'Snowdrop'. As with all good things conceptual, my mind immediately goes out and thinks: ok, so Sukora recorded the falling of snow. In real time, edited, slowed down or sped up? Well, that is of course something we don't know. As the information is of course nil as usual. I cranked up the volume all the way up and heard a highly obscure field recording. That might be the falling of snow indeed - at least if I remember that from years past when winter was a cold season. Twenty-six minutes of fascinating emptiness. Certainly not to be put away as easy listening. Conceptual art in optima forma and even enjoyable, although not something one puts on for random pleasure. (FdW) Address:

'Fieldstone' is the second release by Jonathan Brewster, who choose the name Jasper Leyland to go by. Just as on 'Margin' (see Vital Weekly 529) Leyland plays zither, acoustic guitar, melodica, field recordings all of which go straight into the computer where he transforms them into the finished pieces that he releases. To perhaps a bit lesser extent than before he uses now more real acoustic elements and less glitch elements, but otherwise it's not easy to state the difference between 'Fieldstone' and 'Margin'. Throughout it's still warm, gentle music that doesn't have any sudden changes or surprise elements, but stays on one level. Glitch ambient in optima forma. Like one can find on labels such as 12K and Apestaartje and tons of weblabels. Leyland may not do something drastically new but he delivers another fine work. (FdW) Address:

GREG DAVIS & JEPH JERMAN & ALBERT CASAIS - 6X20 (2CDR by Winds Measure Recordings)
TING TING JAHE - 18 (16) (2CDR by Winds Measure Recordings)
Just as before, the covers are again great for these Winds Measure Recordings (see Vital Weekly 559), and in one case we get a recurring cast, but now expanded. Jeph Jerman and Albert Casaid (formerly the latter worked as Omnid) here present a new work of six pieces of twenty minutes. In each piece on disc one one specific sound source is used. There is water, leaves and bamboo. On second disc each of the players choses their own sound sources and and none knew what the other did, until it was mixed. Jeph and Albert worked together, and send their tapes to Greg who added his parts. If one is aware of the work by Jerman in the last ten or so years, you know you are treated with silent music. Rubbing, pushing and scraping his objects, he never makes big waves, but rather wants the listener to listen. In concerts he uses no amplification and can only play for a small group of people. In these trio recordings the same thing is done: careful and silent music, of touching the sound sources delicately. It's hard to believe that some parts were not recorded together, since it all sounds very united, a homogenous thing, almost like a direct live recording of an event. Perhaps not be played in one go, these two hours, but it's certainly a great CD.
The name Ting Ting Jahe is new to me, and I have absolutely no idea what he does on his release. There are eight tracks, lasting just over half an hour. It could be that he plays a wind instrument in a true onkyo style, but then I also think there are either shortwave sounds or field recordings. It's all a bit difficult to tell. It's not silent per se. Some of the pieces are quite loud, but of course not really noise like. It's a strange release, defying categories, but it's surely a fascinating disc, one that leaves room for interpretation. What is it that he does? Does he improvise? Does he play an electro-acoustic composition? A strange but captivating release. (FdW) Address:

ANLA COURTIS - H-PUNA (3"CDR by Generator Sound Art)
Not really the most recent recorded work, this three part suite by Anla Courtis. It was recorded in 1998 and 'processed and mixed' in 1998-1999, but only just released by Generator Sound Art. The solo work of Courtis is heavy, not exactly in the noise sense of the word, but just heavy. What it is that he does, the cover doesn't give any information, could perhaps just be something very simple, like recording a dish washed and process that sound. Or stick a microphone outside a driving car, and record the wind. That sort of heaviness. A strong but highly minimal sound. Moving slowly. Hard to say wether the changes are accidents or incidents. But surely fascinating enough. It's short and powerful, not a second too long or too short. Very nice. (FdW)

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