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Vital Weekly 572

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NICOLAS BERNIER & JACQUES POULIN-DENIS - ETUDE NO. 3 POUR CORDES ET POULIES (CD by Ekumen)
Back in Vital Weekly 559 I introduced the Ekumen label, through a bunch of highly limited CDr releases. Much surprised I am now by seeing their first real CD release, by Nicolas Bernier and jacques Poulin-Denis, who also made their mark on a compilation MP3 by the label. 'Etude No.3 Pour Cordes Et Poulies' was created for a choreography by Ginette Laurin. Although there is no such indication, I think the two are laptop boys, despite the fact that we hear acoustic instruments such as a cello. Maybe of them plays it, but in all the digital processing that goes on it's hard to believe that it's just one laptop. So me thinks its sound file playback from a computer. Not that it really matters I think, since the music is very vibrant and lively. Things are in constant flux and movement in a live improvised acousmatic manner. The processing as such sound very much like that of the composers on Empreintes Digitales but at the same time there is also a lot of improvised stuff going on. Occasionally they reach for the beat such as in 'Cor', in which everything falls into rhythmic groove of minimalist electronica. Throughout this is a very vibrant CD, with lots of ideas thrown about, but that makes perfect listening sense.  We could now wonder what they dance looked like. (FdW) Address: http://www.ekumen.com




FRANS DE WAARD - VIJF PROFIELEN
(CD by Alluvial)
KAPOTTE MUZIEK VS. GOEM - KGM (CD by Hushush)
Frans de Waard is a busy man, not only publishing Vital Weekly, but above all engaged in a lot of projects such as Beequeen, Freiband, Shifts, Goem and Kapotte Muziek. Occasionally he also releases material under his own name and this signals that the work is based on field recordings. In the case of 'Vijf Profielen', the basic sounds were recorded at the 'Zware Plaatwerkerij' in Vlissingen/The Netherlands. This is a building where so called 'profiles' - elements used in shipbuilding - were made, but which is not used as such anymore, as the area where it is located, is currently undergoing substantial change. 'Vijf Profielen' was originally conceived as a part of an exhibition called 'Mijn Domein' in Vlissingen, for which artists were asked to reflect that transition.
Although there is just one long track on the CD, it is clearly divided into five distinct parts. This makes sense, since it emphasizes the unity of the whole, while making the individual parts actually function as profiles, similar to a series of different shots of the same location in a film. The music is neither cinematic in the sense of conjuring up images, though, nor is it a documentation on the site of the recording, but it rather captures the qualities of the original recordings of the rumble and clatter of large machinery in a suggestive way, transforming the original sounds into carefully abstracted drones. The work demonstrates a fine sense for the aesthetic possibilities of sounds found at a given location. It opens with unprocessed recordings of mechanic sounds, which show that the source material is highly interesting by itself. As the piece progresses it gets more and abstract, moving through minimalist fields of opaque sound, that are mostly subdued, but gain a powerful presence at times. In the final 'profile' the sound recedes almost totally and a fine, dark drone, just above the threshold of audibility closes the CD. Considering the contrast to the opening passage, the transformation of the material throughout the piece and the origin of the basic sounds, this is a great ending - a definite last point on the one hand, but on the other hand also like an emptiness, that reverberates in your memory while the location where the sounds originated doesn't exist anymore.
When I first read "Kapotte Muziek versus Goem" I was perplexed - not so much about the use of the word "versus" despite the fact that there are the same people (Frans de Waard, Roel Meelkop and Peter Duimelinks) behind both projects, but because I couldn't really imagine how the sound of both projects would work together, neither in unison nor in confrontational mode. While Kapotte Muziek keep away from electronics altogether these days, concentrating solely on the manipulation of amplified objects to create richly textured improvisations, Goem's sound aesthetic is one of total reduction, focused on electronic pulses and minimal, yet highly effective variations. Apparently it indeed turned out to be quite a difficult task to compose this 20+-minute track, and several attempts were necessary to complete it. The piece is based on a concert Kapotte Muziek played in Stralsund/Germany in 2004, which was "edited and versed against Goem by Roel Meelkop" as it says on the cover. Instead of being just layered, the aesthetics of both projects are actually interlaced here, with the accent shifting back and forth between rhythmic loops and organic structures. Overall there is a certain grittiness to the music that of course hints towards Kapotte Muziek's use of objects and adds a great noisy character to the rhythmic elements. The composition leaves enough room for the crackling textures to unfold their fragile and detailed beauty, yet it also reaches intensely upfront rhythmic peaks. For several reasons Kapotte Muziek versus Goem might be an unlikely collaboration, but the result proves to be fully coherent - a captivating piece of music, with exactly the right length, precise and rich in details. (Magnus Schaefer) Addresses: http://www.alluvialrecordings.com and http://www.hushush.com



TETUZI AKIYAMA & JOZEF VAN WISSEM - HYMN FOR A FALLEN ANGEL (CD by Incunabulum)
MAURIZIO BIANCHI - DAS PLATINZEITALTER (CD by Incunabulum)
There was a time when I saw Jozef van Wissem about every week, when he was selling on behalf of the Knitting Factory CDs to my little shop. Not that we bought many, or sold many, but I learned to know Jozef is as a nice chap who played this rather odd instrument, at least in the world of experimental and improvised music: the lute. He also sold me a copy or two of his lute playing where he played the score backwards and perhaps a work he did with Gary Lucas. The Knitting Factory in Amsterdam is probably long gone, as is my little shop in the same city, but Van Wissem still plays the lute, and he does so solo, but also improvising with Lucas and on this new CD with Tetuzi Akiyama, who is a true master of improvised music on the acoustic guitar (as well as a nice chap too). Sad enough I missed their concert in my home town a little while ago, but 'Hymn For A Fallen Angel' makes this up, a little bit. Van Wissem plays his baroque lute by strumming it, playing notes and a bottleneck and Akiyama plus his Martin HD-28 Guitar with a bottle neck. I am not an expert of anything let alone the sound of a Lute or Rennaissance or Mediaeval music but it seems to me that here Van Wissem plays very much along the style developed by Akiyama: silent blues. A note here and there, some strumming, much silence. In his recent duet with Greg Malcolm, Akiyama more or less matched up with Malcolm and it seemed more a 50-50 sort of collaboration, but here Akiyama's style prevails. Which is of course not a problem, since the tone of the lute matches up nicely with that of the acoustic guitar and both a strong interplay of sounds. Quiet music, thoughtful and emotional. Excellent stuff.
Perhaps even more strange is a CD that is released by Van Wissem by Maurizio Bianchi - that seemed to me world's apart. But Bianchi knew Van Wissem and the latter mailed Bianchi a bunch of recordings for lute and electronics. Bianchi was free to play around with these. That resulted into 'Das Platinzeitalter', a long work of dense, shimmering and layered tones. I must admit I have no clue what Maurizio Bianchi does here. Feeding the lute and electronica of Van Wissem through his synthesizers? Or perhaps just a lot of sound effects? I don't know, and I can't tell. What I do know is this: it's a great work. It doesn't have that loudness of previous (read: early 80s M.B.) work, but also it's safely far away from his new age doodling of his comeback period. Somewhere in between industrial and ambient is where we see 'Das Platinzeitalter'. Dark atmospheric are the keywords and as such nothing much new goes on, but the lack of innovation aside, this a high quality Maurizio Bianchi work. One of the best I heard from his vast output of recent. (FdW) Address: <secularcd@aol.com>



DRAHOMIRA SONG ORCHESTRA - THE RETURN OF THE 120 MAGICIANS (CD by Waystyx)
TEMPLEGARDEN'S - VELVET STEEL (CD by Waystyx)
Drahomira Song Orchestra  - the title of this project says it all. This is a very strange and quite interesting band. Consisting of two members, Julien Pacaud and Jean-Christophe Sanchez, "Drahomira Song Orchestra" musically puts much weight in noise-spheres and distorted drones on this fourth release titled "The return of the 120 magicians". But it is far from being pure noise music. The album contains elements of classical chamber music with samples of piano and organs and moments of Industrial. Field recordings and French spoken voice samples as well as masses of acoustic music samples from piano to organs are some of the ingredients added into this thick soup of noise experimentalism. The French duo manage to create some very intense moments of icy noise hypnotism not far away from Canadian Vromb, especially on a track like "Dans de mort". As a sharp contrast to this icy track the track titled "To make a train (disappear)" is a warm and chilling track - a minimalist work consisting of looped piano and acoustic guitars riffs as well as gentle ambientscapes washing over. If you are ready for something different and momentarily abrasive stuff, this is an interesting album to check out. An extra plus is the beautiful artwork of the Cd-cover. The same can be said about the next release: A beautiful cardboard-cover has been wrapped around the 3"-cd "Velvet steel" by Templegarden's. If the two raw materials "velvet" and "steel" had been converted into sound expressions, it would probably have sounded like this. Taking its starting point in the world of ambient, German project, Templegarden's (consisting of members from, among others, Synapscape and Morgenstern) dives into the deep oceans of sound with this three track 3"-album. Hence the title of the album, the velvet-part of the album is represented by gentle soundscapes of echoed drones creating a nice atmosphere in the sub-levels of the album, meanwhile the "steel"-part swirls in the forefront of the music with harsh noises and field recordings of clanging steel. Opening gently with the beautiful and atmospheric track "Into the heart ov the moon" reminiscent of a mixture between Steve Roach and KLF (from the "Chill-out"-period), the album gradually floats into territories of harsher and cynic expressions dominated by buzzing noise drones and concrete sounds of steel and metal objects peaking in the closing track "Daedelus verge". Interesting album! (Niels Mark) Address: http://www.waystyx.com



JAZZKAMMER & HOWARD STELZER - TOMORROW NO ONE WILL BE SAFE (CD by Pac Rec)
LASSE MARHAUG - THE GREAT SILENCE (CD by Pac Rec)
16 BITCH PILE-UP - BURY ME DEEP (CD by Troniks)
Since hiring Jliat to do the dirty work in the field of noise, I can safely play around with the noise of people I have been following for the last couple of years. Lasse Marhaug and his mate John Hegre are such persons, now incarnated as Jazkamer, but these recordings are from the time they were called Jazzkammer. In May and June 2004 they toured the USA together with another old close relative Howard Stelzer. The three pieces on this CD were originally to be released as a triple 3"CD set, but now ended up on one CD on a different label. All three pieces deal with recordings from this tour. The first is a live recording by Jazzkammer, then a solo live recording of Stelzer and then a collaborative piece of all three. Jazzkammer's piece starts out in a soft (!) improvised way, a duet for two detuned guitars perhaps, but over the course of the next fifteen minutes things erupt in quite a big manner to end in a rather tape-like ending. Stelzer is our man on ancient technology. These days also incorporating an analogue synth, but usually armed with a mixing board and a battery of walkman machines and cassettes. He plays them by button pushing - play, fast forward, reverse - and amplifying them in unusual manners, say through a small plate of steel. His solo stuff ranges from quite subtle to quite loud, usually within one set, but on this particular occasion he is quite loud, perhaps under the influence of Jazzkammer? He plays quite a raw and rough shaped version of improvised music, that lingers in between noise and improvisation, and is as always a strong voice of his own. In their trio piece things start out in a true improvisation scheme, loose sounds flying about, but sooner than on the Jazzkammer piece things work towards an eruption, wall of feedback noise, but Stelzer keeps throwing in those loose end sounds and the Norwegian boys take control again. In the end it captures that Stelzer like roughness with a Jazzkammer take on the noise side.
The silence of Marcel Duchamp is over-rated, as Beuys once said, and John Cage found out there is no silence. So if there is no silence, why not go complete opposite? That's what Lasse Marhaug may have had in mind when he recorded 'The Great Silence' one september day in 2003. Armed with guitar, amps, pedals, microphones, noise electronix, etc (that presumably is not the laptop that he was armed with for some time after that, before going guitar again), he does 'a Merzbow' here. Record a full album in one day of ear-splitting noise. Three long tracks that work like monochrome paintings - in black that is. Mean, dirty and loud and Marhaug is like the son of Masami. Crafting a fine album, which leaves no room for any surprises, which are these days hard to find in the world of noise, but 'The Great Silence' is a sturdy, hefty mark on the scene.
Not related to Jazzkammer or Stelzer but on a side division of Pac Rec comes 16 Bitch Pile-Up, which I remember from Vital Weekly 474, when I reviewed their CDR split release with Cheapmachines. Back then I thought it was pretty much similar to Merzbow, but things have changed considerably. Apparently they are now a three piece group, and gone are the days of Merzbow imitation. The cover of this release is pretty heavy, looking like a b-movie film poster, but the music is quite nice. 'Bury Me Deep' is their first full length release and it's not noise at all. Low resolution sampling of the most obscured sources, field recordings and stuff nobody has no idea about. Low end rumbling, but with a nice cinematographic side to it. Suspense music for your horror movies. Radio/spoken word cut up, a squeaking door, cars passing, it all happens in a rather free manner, compositions don't always have (or need) structure, but in these free flowing pieces everything seems to be moving back and forth and there is never a dull moment. So what did I say about noise, and no change? Maybe things are possible, 16 Bitch Pile-Up may have the answer. Great CD! (FdW)
Address: http://www.iheartnoise.com



DEL REY AND THE SUN KINGS - BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN (CD by Trakwerx)
When the crew of the Russian battleship Potemkin rebelled against their officers (in 1905 fact fans) they did not realize their actions would eventually lead to the Russian Revolution of 1917. Their suffering and rebellion were cinematically captured in the famous 1925 silent movie made by Sergei Eisenstein. Little did Eisenstein know that a number of soundtracks would be composed to his movie. The best known version is probably the one made by The Pet Shop Boys in 2005. And now we have a brand-new score by 17 Pygmies front man Jackson Del Rey. Ranging from the bombastic opening and drama of Drama In The Harbour (with sonar sounds) to the more restrained A Happy Day In The City this fully instrumental score is a joy to listen to. Mixing classical themes and instruments with more ambient and even industrial sounds this album, much like the events on the battleship, never has a dull moment. Watching the movie whilst playing this CD is quite an experience. Del Rey's score fits the movie perfectly. (Freek Kinkelaar)
Address: http://www.trakwerx.com



JACOB TV - RAINBOW/SHINING CITY/SUITES OF LUX (3x2CD and 2 DVD by Basta)
Jacob TV (the TV stands for Ter Veldhuis) is a name you probably won't recognize, but the Dutch "avant-pop" composer has been responsible for hundreds of scores and performances, which have been successful in both Europe and the United States. After his studies of classical and avantgarde music, TV was active in popmusic before returning to the more classical genre. These three generous sets, each one based on a theme, pay homage to his incredible body of work. A grand total of 7+ hours of music as well as close to 4 hours of DVD material has been compiled by Basta. The Rainbow set contains classical scores for orchestra (like the beautiful Tallahatchie Concerto) and Paradiso (a piece for orchestra and spoken word samples giving it a cinematical feel). The Shining set contains compositions with the boombox, a rhythm device used in combination with samples (such as a coughing baby in Jesus Is Coming!) and orchestra. Suites of Lux has chamber music for strings and piano. With such an overwhelming amount of music, touching on different genres, it is hard to tell at whom these sets are aimed. Too classical for pop lovers, too traditional for the avantgarde, they seem to create a world of their own, where, in Jacob's own words "the music is peppered with sugar". (Freek Kinkelaar) Address: http://www.bastamusic.com



ANDREW LILES - BLACK WIDOW (CD by Beta Lactam-ring)
This is the fourth release in a total of 12 CDs in the Black Series by Liles, current member of Nurse With Wound and general magic man. Like the  previous CDs in this series, Liles uses more and more vocals in his music, which complement his music wonderfully. On this disc famous actor/singer Ernesto Tomasini (who also appeared on Crowded Skies on the BBC television) adds narration and sings. There is even narration in Urdu (by Dr. Malik). Starting off with the thumbpiano of To Maim A Donkey we are sucked into the surrealist world of Liles, where things are never quite what they seem. Strange samples and dark sounds creep in and out and are laced with a unique sense of humur (as in A Hippo Took An Apricot). Before you know it, you're humming along to The cod-James Bond theme And God Doesn't Fuck About, before you realize it's just a little off-beat (and definitely off-set!). The best issue of the Black Series so far, this CD is highly recommended. (Freek Kinkelaar) Address: http://www.blrrecords.com



GREGORY BÜTTNER - 23 ZOOMS (DVD-R/CDR by 1000Füssler)
GRAHAM LAMBKIN & TIMOTHY SHORTELL - MOTION PAINTING (DVD-R by Überkatze Studio)
Perhaps you know the name Gregory Büttner from his work with Für Diesen Abend, or his label 1000Füssler or some of his solo work. Here he presents a visual work. Twenty-three visual works. Old photographs he bought on the fleamarket are zoomed in and out and Büttner adds some music to them. Each of the 'films' last between one and four minutes. The procedure is quite clear after you'd seen one (any one of the twenty three really). That is right away the biggest problem I have with this release. The musical part is quite nice and shows clearly his capacities of playing around with highly detailed, microscopic sounds in the usual microsound fashion, but the 'films' are a bit problematic. Seen one, seen all. People at home mainly. Zoom in. Zoom out. Without a story, narration, these photographs, or perhaps 'films' remain empty as they are. Nice pictures, but without much meaning. I'd rather play the CDR with nineteen short tracks and alternative mixes, close my eyes and dream up my own pictures.
Of more interest, at least the visual side of things, is the DVD-R by Graham Lambkin and Timothy Shortell. 'Motion Painting' seems to me also a conceptual work of moving paint on canvas (?) in front of the camera. The canvas is upright and the paint (and water perhaps) drips along in small but thick washes. A bit like Pollock doing drip paintings, but the paint here seems to be thicker. The music is entirely based on tape-loops of an obscured nature, although radio and organs (and guitar in the seventh piece) seems to come close. Over the course of pieces the sound grows intensity, just as more and more paint gets added. Although the music isn't rather ambient, the video is. Played without the music it is a hallucinating image of slow moving paint textures, but with music it's actually a bit more disturbing, simply because the music is a bit more crude recorded. Both visual and music are highly captivating here, even when the idea is quite clear after the first two films. One still wants to see the other ones, being variations on a theme. Simple made but as such quite it works very well. (FdW)
Address: http://www.1000fussler.com
Address: http://www.anti-naturals.org/swill



RED NEEDLED SEA - TIME.RECALL.NOW (CDR by Sqrt Label)
BLUE SABBATH BLACK GIJI - NODE #1: WORMLAND (3"CDR by Sqrt Label)
'Time.Recall.Now' is the third release by Red Needled Sea, a.k.a. Panos Alexiades, who played guitar on his first release (Vital Weekly 555) and shortwave on 'Signal Transmission' (Vital Weekly 564), and on this new one it's even more hard to guess what he does. I think he plays somesort of keyboard and sound effects. The five pieces are all relatively calm pieces of music that one can sufficient say is drone music. Not like the majority of drone recordings consisting of processed field recordings or computer manipulations, but played on what may be a cheap keyboard and some sound effects, which sound in the background. In 'I Say Goodbye' this all turns a bit more towards good ol' ambient music, but in the other pieces things are dark and atmospheric, with small portions devoted to playing the piano and sounding like creepy Budd/Eno work. It seems all rather simply made, but it's quite alright this stuff. Sometimes effective and good music can be simple. So far his best release.
I never heard of Blue Sabbath Black Fiji, which is a duo of Charles Lavenac on guitar and voice and Janin Benecke on guitar and bass guitar, who manage to play eight short tracks in twenty minutes of highly distorted improvised noise rock, less any drums of course. Rather free playing going here, feeding off through a bunch of distortion boxes most of the time, but in which the element of improvisation is kept alive. Given the fact that the tracks are rather short and to the point, with a sufficient amount of variation throughout these pieces, makes this into quite an enjoyable release, which I fear would not be better if it would be much longer. (FdW) Address: http://sqrt-label.org


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