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Vital Weekly 569

img  Tobias

That someone is acquainted with the music of Jean-Francois Laporte is hardly possible. He released one 3"CD in Metamkine's Cinema Pour L'Oreille series in 1997, called 'Mantra'. Still he's not a busy worker or perhaps a very conscientious one, since 'Mantra' is in its fully glory also heard here, along with four new pieces from the decade in between. In four of those pieces he uses field recordings, like wind such in 'Electro-Prana', but Laporte likes machine sounds, which are at the core of the other three pieces, including the air compressor that is heart of 'Mantra'. In this piece, which it's twenty-five minutes, the massive fundament of this CD, the motor like sounds are processed (perhaps) and create an intense, drone like hum (excuse le mot), that might be very well 'just' a motor, but it's sounds like a choir towards the end of the piece. In 'Dans Le Ventre Du Dragon', something similar happens, but then using the large natural reverb of an empty space of a cargo hull. The fifth piece on the CD is 'Plenitude Du Vide', which is a piece for a saxophone quartet, 'sax trunk, siren organ and the Tu-Yo instruments'. I am not sure what those are, but the idea of this piece is to go from very soft to very loud (well, within reason that is). In an odd way I thought that this piece was also a bit machine like in it's approach, but through an imitation of that with acoustic instruments. Perhaps it's a bit of an odd ball on this CD, but placed at the end it also makes sense. Throughout this is a beautiful CD of lovingly machine hum made into music. (FdW)

MATT SHOEMAKER - SPOTS IN THE SUN (CD by The Helen Scarsdale Agency)
Trente Oiseaux releases never make it into these pages, so the two CDs they released by Matt Shoemaker went by unnoticed. Both cover and information don't give any information as to how, what and where. Let's assume Shoemaker is a guy with a microphone, a recording device and a computer. Taken the outside to the inside, the field recordings to the computer and processing them, so far that we no longer recognize any of the original sound. That sounds like Bernard Günter, Roel Meelkop, Richard Chartier or Marc Behrens? Just a little bit, as there is an important difference. Music by Shoemaker is always audible and it seems to more than the others to work with drones. Stretched out fields of sound with minor developments is what the bigger part of this CD is about. Then, like the air escaping of a balloon, a piece ends abruptly, with much activity. These differences may seem small but in the world of microsound they surely make a difference. Shoemaker's music is always present, and perhaps a little more raw than mentioned counterparts, but that's what I like this release. It moves more wildly through various textures from semi-soft to semi-loud in a more continuos manner and thus Shoemaker can be lumped in with some of the drone crowd than say with his microsound counterparts. In the field of drone music his collage techniques may seem odd, but it's surely an original voice. A high quality work, with minor and vital differences. (FdW) Address:

Peter Anderson's claim to fame might be his Raison D'Etre project, with whom he made several CDs for Cold Meat Industry. Already in 1995, on the same label, he released a work as Atomine Elektrine, with some more light hearted and more ambient. After he released two more CDs on Yantra Atmospheres and in 2004 the first CD for Essence Music, now followed by a second one. Just like a nebulous cloud, this music is highly cosmic. Easily one could mistake the opening pieces to be the lost works of Klaus Schulze, but when in 'Veiled Clouds' a rhythm leaps in, it becomes one of the unreleased works of Chain Reaction. Dwelling heavily on reverb and delay, as well as a bunch of thickly layered analogue synthesizers, it's more 90s than 70s. It turns out this is the course of the album: a cross-over between the cosmic sounds from the mid seventies mixed with minimal rhythm bits that were hip a decade ago on labels as Basic Channel and Chain Reaction, but Atomine Elektrine lacks the techno side of those labels. Surely highly pleasant music that offers a mix that was done before by others too, but Anderson creates a fine work himself. Not a masterpiece of musical innovation, but strong and entertaining enough. Like the sky just fall on the ground and emits its waves. And that sort of metaphors. (FdW) Address:

SETH NEHIL - AMNEMONIC SITE (CD by Alluvial Recordings)
Perhaps Seth Nehil is better known from his collaborative work than for his solo work. He worked with jgrzinich and Olivia Block, but his last solo work was from 2002. In the years between he worked mainly on different projects that couldn't be released on CD, such as multimedia installations. The new work 'Amnemonic Site' is covered with obscurity. Besides his name, the title, labelname and catalogue number, the cover holds no information. 'Play Loud' it says on the label, which always raises the question here: why? I usually like to make up my own mind if I want to play music loud or not. The whole time I was playing this CD, I couldn't stop thinking 'what are these sounds'? It's of course a question that I constantly ask myself when playing new music, certainly when covers are as obscure as this one, but in Nehil's case, it can be anything really. Are these field recordings? Perhaps. Or closely miked objects? Also likely. And what about the nature of sound processing? It seems likely there is some. How and to what extent? And do I also detect some real instruments, like wind instruments, or perhaps organs? It's all likely. Each of the pieces is a large mix up, I imagined, of all of these. There is field recordings, closely miked objects falling to the wooden floor, but also long sustained sounds of wind instruments. It all makes up a particularly strong CD, that is very much alike the latest Olivia Block release, in which a similar treatment of 'real' instruments and field recordings is used, and Nehil easily reaches to a similar height in his 'Amnemonic Site'. Full of tension, he offers a strong interplay between all of his soundsources and it's easily the best release I heard from him to date. (FdW)

Norwegian composer Helge Olav Øksendal has been active as HOH in quite some years by now. "Bestemor", being the third release, represents the Stavanger-based HOH first step into the experimental pop-scene. The album nicely balances between electronic experimentalism and catchy tunes. There are quite a few pleasant moments throughout the 45 minutes running time, from the harsh instrumental track "Erlöser" to the beautiful folk-like opener "To the lighthouse" with female singing and spiritual atmospheres. "Bestemor" is the Norwegian word for "Grand mother". The album was made as an ode to the grand mother of the composer. I am sure that she'd be proud for this musical result from her grand son. (Niels Mark) Address:

By now John Wiese is a kind of well-known, I think, due to his involvement with Sunn O))) and Bastard Noise, and so the vaults are open for re-issue. Sissy Spacek is the oldest band that Wiese was involved in, before moving to Los Angeles. Back in the days, Sissy Spacek was Corydon Ronnau on guitar, Danny McClain on drums and Wiese on guitar and electronics (these days the band is still Wiese, Ronnau and Jesse Jackson). Today the band uses the old recordings which are heavily put in collage mode and set against newly recorded material. With 'Remote Whale Control' we get to hear what it sounded like in 2001 when it was originally recorded and released. Heavy duty free music. Drums are in an absolutely free spirit, while the sound is picked up by Wiese's electronics. Both guitars are in similar free noise mood. This is not what these boys were taught in music school, and that's great. These days I have my reservations against noise, because much of it is made without imagination and all too easily, but in this case sweat comes bursting out of your speakers. No easy way is chosen, tension is all the way present, balancing the live noise act versus the studio manipulation. One could wish there is more like this. (FdW) Address:

An active force since the 80s, Kazuyuki Kishino, better known as KK Null. Once the guitarist of Zeni Geva, Absolute Null Punkt, YBO2 and later of Monster DVD, but in the last decade (or more even) best known for his solo work, as well as his many works in the field of improvisation and collaboration, with the likes of Daniel Menche, Jim O'Rourke, James Plotkin, John Zorn and many, many others. These days the guitar is usually left at home and KK Null uses just electronics. Splicing up sounds in the smallest particles and moving them around in a highly fragmented, but curiously rhythmic fashion, he found a niche of his own. 'Fertile' is his first solo release for Touch, following a disc he shared with Chris Watson and z'ev. On this album he applies his usual branch of scattered rhythms along side with field recordings he made in Australia. Insect choirs, fires, birds and such like are used, but they are not easy to find. In the world of KK Null it's electronic sounds that rule the game. Harsh electronic sounds, I should add, as his music is not for the faint hearted. The rhythmic slices remind very occasionally to the work of Pan Sonic, but it's much more minimal and do not resemble any sort of dance beat. On top he knits together a pattern that could be cosmic as well as noise. At times he takes the listener by the hand and let things flow about, but all of sudden he let's go of the listener and with a loud bang the listener wakes up in a nightmarish reality. Although indexed as eight pieces, with all the sudden shifts in sound, it could have been one track or ninety-nine. I am not sure however if this disc stands out from his vast amount of work (I should check some out again), but it's a particular sturdy one. Quite nice altogether. (FdW) Address:

SOFTWAR - SOFTWAR (CD by Digitalis Industries)
The new folk scene made a big impression on a lot of people but to be honest it all went a bit past me. So when a band like Softwar comes up, I have a big questionmark above my head. It features Lorren Chase of Kyrgyz (whereas I only know his older solo work), Christine Boepple (of Jewelled Antler and Kyrgyz) as well as Kerry McLaughlin and Geoff Koops. 'They played on a million records' it says with the info, but I find it hard to name even just a few. Instruments are not listed on the cover, but there is a female voice, organs, percussive sounds and other more obscured sounds (contact microphones to pick up the scraping of a carpet?). It's sweet music. Careful, delicate, partly improvised and highly intimate. You can almost see them sitting on their worn out carpet together, with one microphone for all of them, creating the music. Sometimes perhaps a bit unfocussed but such is the nature of this music, which perhaps works even better if one is using illegal substances.
Two Italian artists whom we first met from their releases on Small Voices, now team up for a double CD. Fabio Orsi released a great LP called 'Osci' (see Vital Weekly 512) which was produced by Kinetix, which happens to be the name used by Gianluca Becuzzi. Slow music based on field recordings of a highly obscure nature, with some folk (read: guitar) like elements. Back then it was a unclear as to did and which part Becuzzi had in the final result. Now it's perhaps a bit clearer: both use 'old keyboards, guitars and laptop'. It's also less obscure than the Orsi LP, and further away from much of Kinetix material. Both music and cover reminded me strongly of Stars Of The Lid. The same typography on the cover, but also similar slow music, and forty-five minutes per CD. Sounds only develop at a slow rate, endless sustain coming from the sound effects, moving slow hum about. Music of a highly ambient nature, even when some elements seem odd, such as the machine like sounds of 'Blue Drones For A Ballad (Part Two)'. Now that Stars Of The Lid may seem to have vanished (in whatever guise actually, or perhaps contemplating a comeback?), this is a rather good substitute of a more than excellent nature. (FdW) Address:

Although this is recorded at my beloved Extrapool, on December 8 and 9 of last year, I didn't see this happening - I wasn't there. Kasper van Hoek is a man who goes through the thrift store to find old technology. Record players and tape decks have his main interest. Feeding with crude sound material he picked up along the way on likewise cheap microphones, making internal connections, cutting them up and looping them around - quite a physical approach to music. In this concert, the last in this approach (newer technology makes his way to his house now), he used two cassette decks 'connected in a loop and where muted on the mixer, a turntable (with no power connected) was plugged into the mixer and, when touch, acted as a receiver for the tape sounds'. If you expect a barrage of noise than you wrong. Two rather short tracks (almost nine and eleven minutes) of highly controlled noise. Especially in the second one, with it's loops from the turntable and high pitched sounds on top, this works rather nice. Van Hoek keeps his material under control and delivers quite intense pieces of controlled noise, which is something that is always spend on me. Short and to the point. (FdW) Address:

By now I hope that the name Axel Dörner is recognized as one of the key players of improvisation music, 'new style'. Dörner plays trumpet in such a way that it hardly sounds like a trumpet. I am not sure if he is the inventor of this kind of playing but he has been at it for quite some while. Lucio Capece is a more recent addition (at least, again, from my perspective) to the scene and he plays soprano saxophone and bass clarinet. Together they sat down in July 2004 at Axel's house to record the two lengthy pieces on this release. I must say I am intrigued by the word 'mixed' on the cover. Usually works like this are straight documentations of a concert or an in-studio recording session. But perhaps this time they made a multi-track recording and mixed it? And if so, are there any overdubs? Sometimes it sounds like that, but perhaps it's my fantasy going wild (again?). In the fifty or so minutes that this release lasts, they move through a whole range of textures, mostly soft and not too outspoken, but rather depicting a lot of different ways to show one color, like a color field painting. In that sense it's perhaps good to that this is just two tracks, and not a whole bunch of shorter pieces, so that the idea of one color-many shades is furthermore emphasized. A great release of improvised music, but I must say also one that holds no real surprise to the trained listener. (FdW) Address:

MICHAEL GENDREAU - Live at Sonic Circuits DC 2006 (MP3 by Zeromoon)
An important part of Michael Gendreau's oeuvre is focused on the material aspects of records and turntables from the pre-vinyl era, i.e. the surface noises of worn shellac discs and acetates and the sounds produced by the mechanic parts of the record players. Gendreau heavily amplifies these usually barely perceptible hisses, rumbles, and squeals, and thus reveals their fascinating micro-textural richness. The work Gendreau performed live at the Sonic Circuits Festival in Washington DC in October 2006 is a 28 minute long, gradually built-up drone-piece, that goes from near silence to powerful upfront passages and back again, with blocks of clear, detailed sounds gently fading into each other and occasional sudden changes in volume marking moments of contrast in the overall compositional structure. The heavy amplification produces a virtual shift in dimension, as the sounds draw the listener near and gain a sensuous presence that is as intimate as it is irritating. While layering sounds of very different textural quality, crackling, rotating and pulsating at varying volume and intensity, Gendreau manages to keep each sound distinct in the overall mix. This further adds to an effect of intimacy and irritation, with the various sound sources, or rather the listener's imagination of them, collapsing into a complex construction of a highly absorbing quality. Knowing about the origins of the sounds lends them a certain preciousness that perfectly mirrors the aura of the antiquated devices. It functions as a nostalgically charged backdrop to the stream of disembodied sounds, which locates them in an instable state between vague representation and rigid abstraction. The aesthetic dispositions sketched out here are complemented on the conceptual level by an implicit reflection on the medial conditions of sound, brought about by the material itself, insofar as Gendreau brings to attention the material presence of the medium by utilizing as his sources what are basically the by-products of reproducing sound - the surface noise of records and the mechanical sounds of the turntable itself. This release, as well as Gendreau's related works, such as "55 Pas De La Ligne Au No. 3" (23Five), is an example of a most sensitive handling of concrete sound material, equally exploring its aesthetic dimension and its material context. (Magnus Schaefer) Address:

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