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Vital Weekly 574

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The first collaborative release between guitarist/laptop artist Christian Fennesz and pianist/laptop artist Ryuichi Sakamoto was a nineteen minute work called 'Sala Santa Cecilia' which for some reasons didn't make it to Vital Weekly, even when much later it was heard in the head quarters. In that work it seemed fore most a battle of lap-tops and less based on their own instruments, and made a good but perhaps not always convincing. In the years to follow the two continued to work on new material in each of their own studio, sending sounds to the other and occasionally they met during concerts and further developed their work. Perhaps this is the reason that the emphasizes lies much more on Sakamoto's piano and lesser to Fennesz' guitar and both (perhaps!) do an equal share of electronics. When I played it first time around it was a somewhat softer volume and it seemed to me that the piano played a louder contribution, but in the times after that, turning up the volume, things are indeed more in balance. The Budd/Eno connection was made more in the past weeks (Red Needled Sea, Feu Follet, Krater), so it seems like a small revival, since Fennesz Sakamoto add their share too. Sakamoto's light touch on the piano may remind the listener also of Eric Satie, but with Fennesz laptop in the back, things never sound too smooth or easy. 'Kuni' is a slightly dissonant piece with creepy electronic string like sounds, and is almost like a horror movie soundtrack. In other pieces they are much more accessible, but it defines the strength of this album. What on just a superficial level may sound similar, is in fact the difference in the details. It's a beautiful, well-balanced album that displays the qualities of both performers in the best possible way. Two masters at work.
Church organs play an important role in the catalogue of Touch. They organize events called 'Spire' in which 'old' composed pieces of organ music meet up with 'new' pieces of church organ music, often in combination with electronics. Perhaps it might be odd to see the name of Lasse Marhaug popping up in that respect (organs? Touch?), but in 2004 he first played with one Nils Henrik Asheim, an organist. In 2006 they met up again in the Oslo Cathedral to play an evening together. Asheim playing cluster like sounds and something that is called 'half-stops' and Marhaug on his sine wave oscillators, noise generators and feedback. Hold on. Feedback? Are we to expect a full hour blast of noise, a common trick of trade for Marhaug? Hold your breath, since the answer is no. Marhaug is, surprise, surprise, able to play subtle music. It's the kind of subtle music that is subtle in these areas. If you expect Marhaug going ambient, then this is not the case. Asheim plays clustered tones to which Marhaug his electronic part which go wonderfully well together. Most of the times it's hard to see who is doing what. Only when Asheim hits a solo key, it becomes apparent what it is. Apparently this was all made during an improvisation, which was later on edited by Marhaug. Maybe in that final stay he added or subtracted a few things, but it's hard to believe it's improvisation. These guys seem to go pretty much a well-worked out scheme (or dare I say composition?) here. Things are that coherent here. If the 'Spire' CDs aren't enough or you want to hear Marhaug doing something out of the ordinary: this is grand mutation! (FdW) Address:

MOKIRA - HATELESS (CD by Ideal Recordings)
Taken by surprise is something I like. Over the years I learned to know Mokira, also known as Andreas Tilliander, as a produce of some fine rhythm music, minimal techno, shoegazing techno and clip hop like (or at least that what I think he called it): various shades of rhythm, but rhythm. Here on 'Hateless' there is not much rhythm, or perhaps so many small and fast ones, that it becomes a blurr. Mokira is an album of heavy experimental, slightly distorted, powerful drone chords. Electronics seem to be connected in the wrong, and the resulting short cut of electricity makes the music. It's different from what I know, and an unusual step I think. Dark, hermetically closed music. Heavily loaded. It's perhaps not all too new, but I like to applaud the adventure and risk Tilliander takes to make something new. For those who love ø or Vainio other solo work, this new Tilliander should go down well.
A surprise on a totally different level is the success of Wolf Eyes, which is great for them, but something I fail to understand, or in fact much of the success of New Noise, hailed by the music press as the next big thing. It's those music world mechanism which I never ever understand. What Wolf Eyes do sound very eighties (and they probably are the first to admit that, so that's fine): distorted synths, effected guitars, noise, percussive bangs. I haven't kept up at all, that's something I'll readily admit, with their vast output over the years, and I can actually enjoy a Wolf Eyes' recording every now and then. What struck me was the fact that 'Black Wing Over The Sand' is recorded quite well. It's not the lo-fi garage recording which I usually associate this music with. It sounds also not really 'just improvised and thrown to tape', but it's quite nice mixed with a good amount of tension. This is a fine record. But, and I like to stress that time and time again, I like music to develop. Just as boring it is to sound like Pink Floyd these days it is as boring to sound like Throbbing Gristle, twenty-five years after the fact. Obviously not many would agree, and think that the good times should roll on. Entertainment is not a bad thing at all, but if you want to be progressive, avant-garde or 'new' than you should find new ways, new approaches to music. Wolf Eyes is not that glorious path to new music, but they are entertaining as hell. (FdW)

Despite their twenty-two year involvement in music, I must admit I never heard of Carlton Crusher, who is a keyboardist and vocalist of ST 37 and other outings in space rock bands. Together with his wife Sharon he has a side project called Book Of Shadows, and they call it a 'magical/experimental outlet' and '... And Then We All Woke Up' is their second album. The various members play electronics, guitar, keyboards, synthesizer, theremin and vocals. Especially the latter work on my nerves: the wordless humming and chanting with no mouths wide open. The music itself was rather nice: a free flow space music, a cosmic trip down the installer overdrive. Music that has no formal structure, but one that sounds like totally improvised, only stripped down to a formal beginning and end. When things start, they start and everything is present and over the course of piece, things move in and out the mix, like stars in the sky at night. It sometimes tend to be a bit long and things could have been a bit tighter, but of course that doesn't count when the atmospherics are to be reached. No doubt Book of Shadows find the length of this necessary and perhaps they are right in doing so. This is not music to be discussed in terms of composition, structure or such terms, but rather in terms of 'is the flow right', 'it's space-like enough'. As such it works indeed rather well. (FdW) Address:

Although the cover lists six people who contributed to this release Off The Sky is basically just Jason Corder on guitar, piano and arrangement. He receives help from two female vocalists, a percussionist, violinist and cellist. Corder has also made rave and dub techno in the past, but these days he is occupied with his guitar and computer to write 'humble' songs - no wonder he ended up on what is perhaps the interesting (if not only) ambient of The Netherlands, Databloem. If I hadn't read the cover of this release, I could easily thought that Corder played a bunch of digital keyboards and another bunch of refined drum computers. Much of the material was generated in a live situation with 'artists interacting to interpret an idea of life in transit to afterlife' - which sounds to me like a heavy weight theme, that also not really reflects the atmospheric ambient music captured here. The concert recordings were taken home and overlayed with piano sounds. This is an interesting CD, not because it has something really new in terms of innovative music, but it has an interesting mixture of styles to offer. There is the downright ambient music that is the main feature on this album. In 'Of Acid And Angels' this is mixed with ethnic sounding percussion and 'Feather In A Needle' goes towards warm glitchy music. Also this mixture isn't something new and fresh either, but Corder does a fine job in creating an album that is highly varied throughout, not sticking to one fixed idea but blending various ideas together and creating an atmospheric album that works quite relaxing. (FdW) Address:

Originally this was supposed to be a recording by erikM and Luc Ferrari, in which 'sounds and compositional parts could be substituted and transformed in an almost improvisational setting', but due the bad health of Ferrari at that time (may 2005, who died later in 2005), Thomas Lehn was invited. For the concert Lehn plays his EMS synthi A, an instrument which he has mastered quite well and plays with much bodily activity - a true pleasure to see and erikM playing around with audio samples, sound and concrete music he already recorded with Ferrari, hence the latter' name still on the package. It's quite a powerful work which at thirty minutes is very much to the point. It's a highly vivid and vibrant piece of improvised music. Sounds swirl and spin around, with Lehn's electronically bliss and thunder, crack and hiss and erikM's sampled to death concrete sounds. There is cat in there that made me look around everytime I heard to check if the one from the neighbors is again in my house. This all makes quite an interesting CD that is top-heavy under the sounds, but as said at thirty minutes, this is not a single second too long or short.
For a bunch of concerts in Australia, Taylor Deupree made a CDEP (just like his buddy Richard Chartier did a while back), showcasing his recent work, or perhaps a continuation of what he has been doing for some time, but ever so slowly refining his trade. Watching pain dry, hearing snow fall, seeing the sky turn blue after a rainy day. Deupree's music is one that is excellent for metaphors about tranquility, silence, slow motion. In that sense 'Landing', with its three tracks is the perfect showcase for his music. A desolate slow guitar sound in 'Seep', although it comes in when the music is almost over. It's hard to tell what he does, what sounds he uses, but it's of utter minimalism and rather ambient, but a kind of ambient that is not really close the traditional one with it's washes of synthesizers and more like Eno's original first ambient record. A few warm sounds, making slow gestures and creating a tranquil backdrop in your area. At three perhaps a bit short... (FdW) Address:

The releases I heard on Topheth Prophet from Israel so far showed an interest in experimental and electronic music. In a way Lietterschpich is experimental and electronic, but it works on a different level. About Lietterschpich we don't know that much, but it seems to a duo of Conor Brennan and Jason Dixon, who play electronics, vocals and drums. I was playing this and I couldn't help thinking of Silver Apples, but than totally deranged. It doesn't have that rhythm, that lyricism or that refined, but Lietterschpich vocal outbursts, improvised drums and wacky synth bubbles, with oscillations going berserk, they take the Silver Apples sound into a totally new direction. The grunting vocals, the distorted synths: this is noise land, and quite a nice one at that. It fits the new noise banner from the USA scene (which I believe they are from) and as much nothing too new under the noise sun here, but it's executed with care and style. They carved out their own niche in noise and do it well
About Grundik Kasyansky we a little more than about Lietterschpich, that he has three previous releases (Vital Weekly 524, 530 and 548) and that he plays feedback synthesizer, field recordings, theremin, samples and assemblage and here on 'Floating Point' one Fyodor Makarov plays toy concertina. The music is an 'audio collage based on three works written for dance', all mixed up into one piece, so the relevance of the music for dance is gone, I'd say. In his previous releases Kasyanksy was a man who showed his love for quiet music, with a big role for silence among the silence, and perhaps a soft peep here and there. But on this new release he makes a step forward. It may end out in his usual soft mood, but over the course over the thirty-six minutes that go before that he brings his material alive through a very strong audio collage. Field recordings and feedback, and occasional bang on the toy piano: it makes up quite a strong release. At times I was reminded a bit of Andrew Liles, even when Kasyansky's music sounded at times more fully loaded than Liles. It marks a great step forward for Kasyansky and is by far his best release to date.

In the dark days around christmas I was first introduced to the music of Drone Forest, which is 'a group of musicians who exchange raw sounds over the internet, then use those source sounds to individually construct music that adheres to a group ethic' (see Vital Weekly 558). 'Amy's Arms/Metacollage' is their first outing on vinyl, after a vast amount of CDRs. Currently there are four core members, Davie Blint, Mike Bowman, Ian C. Stewart (who founded Drone Forest in 2002) and C. Reider, the latter being responsible for the assembly of this LP and the release of it on his own Vuhz Music label. The recent CDR releases I reviewed were also assembled by Reider, so perhaps I am seeing only part of the four sided coin, but Drone Forest plays quite some interesting pieces of drone music. The music here is fifteen or so minutes per side of dark and highly atmospheric drone music, with a great emphasize on organ like sounds, many effects (perhaps a bit too many) and processed, through the same sound effects, recordings culled from nature. The longer piece approach applied here works well, better than the somewhat shorter pieces on the previous CDRs. Here music gets the time it needs to develop under the microscope. It's also somewhat louder and more present than much of the UK counterparts who work in a similar field (Monos, Ora). It makes this LP by far the better work I heard so far by Drone Forest, even when the music itself has no relatively new surprises to carry. (FdW) Address:

MIKEAL BOYD/FRANCISCO LOPEZ (10" Lathe Cut by Somnimage)
Maybe you have seen the word Lathe Cut before, and you don't what it is? It's a piece of thin plastic, in which grooves are cut with music. It's done only (as far as I know) by Peter King in New Zealand. There are several people who collect what he cuts, since the editions can be very small - fifteen is the minimum I believe - and they can turn out to be true collectors items. The sound is not always too great, and can't be compared to vinyl. On the split record by Mikeal Boyd and Francisco Lopez - limited to a mere sixty copies - this disadvantage has been used as an advantage. Mikeal Boyd, who released this on his own Somnimage label (who also released an excellent set of three Hafler Trio 7"s in a wooden box), uses field recordings from Stonehenge, and which sound like a small campfire and a far away overhead plane or car passing. The static crackles of the fire are perhaps (!) processed into loops, and mingle nicely with the crackles of the lathe cut itself. Something similar does Francisco Lopez on the other side. Here he manipulates eight two second samples by one Luis Marte. It's not easy to tell what these samples should sound like, but Lopez creates a dense pattern with them, and after a slow start, things go up in volume quite a bit and the hiss and crackle become alive. At one point half way through there is even a bit of rhythm to be traced and that is something which is really an odd ball in the work of senor Lopez. When it cuts out towards the end, Lopez cleverly leaves some space blank on his master, but of course on a lathe cut there is nothing such as silence and the blank space is therefore nicely filled with more hiss. Nice exploitation of what some could see a disadvantage. Great record. (FdW) Address:

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