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Vital Weekly 571

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ZIYA TABASSIAN - TOMBAK (CD by Ambiances Magnetiques)
(CD by  Ambiances Magnetiques)
Tombak is the name of an important percussion instrument used in persian classical music. It is a one-sided drum carved out of the trunk of a walnut or mulberry tree and covered in goat or lamb skin. It is in the dedicated hands here of Ziya Tabassian, who studied classical percussion in Montréal, and tombak in Iran. He is member of several ensembles that are engaged in classical and world music. On 'Tombak' however we find all alone with the tombak or zarb. Tabassian composed 9 pieces to demonstrate his love for this instrument. Compositions that are beyond the musical context where the tombak is usually heard. Played with bare hands he creates subtle and sober improvisations, that show the great flexibility of his playing. It is amazing what new sounds and colors he finds on this simple instrument. Through a great variety of techniques and musical principles, he discovers new dimensions on this rich instrument. On the other hand, how inventive and virtuoso this music may be, it is just two hands on one basic percussion instrument. Within these limitations Tabassian does a great job. But as a listener you must have a great affinity with this idiom in order to really appreciate and enjoy it. So I hope 'Tombak' finds it's way.
Another exotic instrument we hear on the duo CD by Bélanger and Guilbeault. Marie-Soleil Bélanger plays the ehru, a chinese string instrument, in some of the tracks on their cd 'Les salines'. Most of the time however she sticks to the baritone violin. Norman Guilbeault plays double bass. He may be known to you from his recent Charles Mingus tribute that I reviewed for Vital Weekly. Besides he worked and works with many other musicians from the Ambiances Magnétiques collective like René Lussier, Jean Derome and many others. Bélanger is active in the Montréal scene since 1994, and plays currently with Fanfare Pourpour. On a tour in France in 2005 both found inspiration for their CD, a very nice and inspired work by two excellent string players from Canada. The compositions are very transparent and open and give plenty of room this way to the capabilities of both musicians. Most of all they prove themselves as great vehicles for the musical expression of both players. They communicate in well balanced improvisations, that are not far out concerning their structure. And although they make use of extended techniques, they don't push things to the extreme. With great ease and joy they move between traditionalist and modern approaches, creating some very warm and human music. (Dolf Mulder) Address:

Seattle-based guitarist Bill Horist teams up here with Tanaka Yasuhiko, also a guitarist.
Yasuhiko Tanaka is from Kyoto and played with people from Ruins, the Boredoms and Altered States. He has his own band called Dubmarronics, and is member of Datetenrya, a psych-rock band that started in the 70s(!). Horist operates solo most of the time, never tired of experimenting on and with the guitar with a great many gadgets, etc. On a day in august 2005 both gentlemen recorded 10 duets that are published now by Public Eyesore. It is immediately evident that the two are very different as guitar players. One choses for the noisy sounds and attacks, while the other has a much more cleaner sound and approach. Most pieces are built upon looped patterns that change from moment to moment on the one hand, and a more free improvising playing on the other. But in several pieces this does not work out and they do not really meet. It is more seeking than finding what we hear. Sometimes they move within the tradition of minimal music, like in 'Shizuka No Umi' that reminds me of early Terry Riley work. It is followed by 'Happyland' that starts with a freaked out hardrock solo improvisation like we know Nick Didkovsky. In other tracks the early works of Fripp and Eno are recalled. With this name dropping I don't want to suggest Horist and Marron are copying old masters. Not at all. But they did their history lessons. Consequently in their bizarre duets full of all kinds of guitar manipulations, they create very different atmospheres. Great, but alas in several pieces their experiments are not integrated into one concept. But for the adventurous listener of guitar music there is a lot to enjoy. (Dolf Mulder) Address:

This CD is introduced as follows: 'this record should not exist. But it does exist. So what happened? Well, the tapes for this recording were one of the few things that were left from a fire that destroyed the apartment of Mike Pride and most of his possessions. As if they were waiting or meant for release in some mysterious way these tapes were preserved. Anyway, this release will be linked for Pride with the catastrophe that took place. And whether the tapes would be released also when the fire didn't took place, in the end it is of no meaning for the listener. The cd is the fifth document in Pride's ongoing 'Scene Fucker' series of live improvisations. This cd contains one long improvisation of 35 minutes. Mike Pride (percussion, glockenspiel, electronics and microcassette) is helped out by Gerald Menke (pedal steel guitar), Brian Moran (electronics), Jessica Pavone (viola) and Aaron Ali Shaikh (soprano & alto saxophone). Mike Pride has a history of playing with punkers as well as improvisors. His companions on this cd also come from very different backgrounds from what I read about them. But february 27, 2003, when they met on stage, seemed to be a perfect day for them. The playing is very concentrated and with great drive. It is an example of group improvisation, where no particular instrument is in the forefront. No all musicians are equally involved in building together an improvisation that fascinates from beginning to the end. The recording is okay, and Public Eyesore was absolutely right in releasing this little gem. Fire or no fire. (Dolf Mulder)

KIRCHENKAMPF - BABEL (2CD by Diophantine Discs)
The name Kirchenkampf has been around for many years and it has been a strange career so far. In the beginning there were some highly limited 7" releases, then a period of quietness and now relatively more activity, and perhaps the release of this double CD, perhaps the first for Kirchenkampf, things will lead to more recognition and 'fame' (well, if such as thing is required of course). John Gore, the man behind Kirchenkampf (as well as The Oratory Of Divine Love, who also recently a first real CD and the Cohort Records label), is a busy bee by now. The differences between his Kirchenkampf and The Oratory Of Divine Love are small, and lie mainly in the origins of the used material. The latter uses short wave sounds which are highly processed and as Kirchenkampf it's analogue synthesizer time and a lot of sound effects. Two hours span this double disc of highly atmospheric sound that are as highly dark as well. Moody, dark electronic music, that is quite angular in approach. This is certainly not ambient music which sets a comforting background for the listener, but it's an intense experience that has some unsettling moments. I thought CD2, called 'Citadel Of The Nevermind' was a bit more quiet, but that may have been my perception. The work of Kirchenkampf has matured slowly over the years and now is the time to take the benefit of it. It's not music that hasn't been done before but Kirchenkampf is in the world of experimental electronic and (well, ok) ambient music one of the strongest voices. (FdW) Address:

Some weeks I ago I encountered the name Mathias Delplanque for the first time. He created a nice CD of heavily processed recordings of silence in various rooms. Back then (Vital Weekly 560) I didn't know that much about Delplanque, but he also works in such guises as Bidlo, Stensil and Lena, when not under his own name and he has released works on Quartermass, Harmsonic, Mondes Elliptiques, Low Impendance, Arbouse and others. So by request of Soundsaround here is his third album as Lena, and it's good to see he choose a different when playing different music. Because Lena is indeed different. Dub with the big D-U-B, complete with toasting sound and probably made in a highly digital fashion. The whole digi-dub wave that flooded the market about a decade ago is washed ashore, and reggae is of course big as ever, in it's own corner. It's possible to link Lena to Jan Jelinik or any such ~scape artist, but his sound is closer to the roots (always mention the word 'roots' in reviews like this) of the real stuff, not in the least place because of the singers that he invited to play along. According to the label it's more dark than his previous releases as Lena, which of course I can't vouch for, but Lena plays a tune or two that is indeed much darker than usual. 'Big city paranoia' music or some such, I could all too easily think. I like this very much and realize that I don't listen to as much of this kind of music as I would like to. But at the same hand I also must admit that not every track here is as strong as the first few opening pieces. In the mid range of the album there are a couple of tracks that are a bit too regular, and too easily made, but throughout, I must say I am quite pleased with it, and it's about time to dig out the Incoming! label or Zion Train CDs, which are somewhere collecting dust. (FdW)

Until early last year I collected everything by Merzbow and I gave up because I found it frustrating that many releases I could play once, whereas I would want to hear them more than once. Time waits for no one. Occasionally I listen to new Merzbow releases, when they land on the Vital Weekly desk and I still enjoy them. Likewise while on the subject of collecting music by a specific artist, Jim O'Rourke comes close to having a lot of, and if Merzbow is the king of noise than Jim is the king of... well, of what actually? Music perhaps. So shear excitement on my face when this landed here, a recording of Jim O'Rourke together with Merzbow and Carlos Giffoni recorded at the Uplink Factory from last year. This has classic stamped all over it. Merzbow playing his EMS synthi 'A', home made instruments and effects, Giffoni on custom synths and analog filters and Jim on synth and microphone. For Merzbow a rare thing to go back to his analogue days and a rare gig for O'Rourke who now concentrates on making films in Japan. How much more historical can it get? And oh yes, this is noise, as spelled N-O-I-S-E. Nothing for faint hearted. An hour blast, but one that goes through various stages, moods and textures. As analogue as Merzbow in his best analogue days ('Cloud Cock OO Grand', 'Rainbow Electronics'). Piercing music. Industrial music as it should be and as such nothing new under the sun but even in this old sun it's nice and warm. (FdW) Address:

Much of the press text on this LP is about the cover, but I only got the CDR version of the LP so I'm missing out on this beauty. I think I would have preferred some more information about NJD, which has something to do with Feine Trinkers, who one day teamed up with 'one half' of Troum to play a concert in Braunschweig. When this was, we don't know. That is of course not of real importance either. What is important is that the music is very nice. From all things dark, drone and magickal, Troum are our personal heroes. Here the two play a variety of acoustic instruments, such as the accordion, and feed them through a bunch of sound effects: the usual ingredients of the dark ambience industrial music of Troum and Feine Trinkers. A bang on a can, feeding through some delay pedals, evoking tribal images and rhythms. What is surprising (well, perhaps) is the clarity of the recordings and the details of the music. It's not an endless mist of sound that is quite common in this kind of music, but especially from the third piece onwards the differences between instruments used and the sound effects. The second piece tends a bit too much towards the old zoviet*france sound for my taste (area Monomishme, Gris etc.), but in the other pieces Troum vs NJD play some highly thoughtful drone music in their own manner. This is a great record, but it's also a record that doesn't show too much development in the sound we already from both acts. But sometimes that isn't necessary. (FdW)  Address:

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