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Vital Weekly 578

img  Tobias

It only seems a short while ago that I reviewed the self-titled debut by Lesbians On Ecstasy, which had covers of other lesbian artists. The new album continues this line of interest, except that their interest has now moved to women's music from the 70s, which was released on small, independent labels, such as Olivia Records. Just like before, Lesbians On Ecstasy don't play cover, but they take themes and lyrics to create their own songs. Don't except long haired, Joni Mitchell type of songs on this new release, and here too there is a sense of continuation with the previous release. Stomping rhythms, forceful keyboards, sharp guitar lines and of course plenty of vocals. Their music owes more to seventies loud rock and disco than to acoustic guitar. Highly political with strong points about feminism and lesbian life style, but it's hardly a problem enjoying the music for me (male, hetero) or it's lyrical content. It's pretty strong popmusic. These women are proud to be lesbi ans and they love to show it. Their band photo on the inside of the cover is simply great (and a great rarity in Vital Weekly). (FdW)

Everything about Function's CD is massive: it's length of seventy-seven minutes, recorded in ten different countries over a three and half year period and with over thirty musicians contributing. The main man however is Matt Nicholson from Australia, who wrote the material. Among the instruments we recognize piano, cello, viola, slide guitar, trumpets, vocals, field recordings, flutes, harp - well you name it. You could dismiss this album as another post rock album, albeit with vocals, but I don't think that entirely justifies this. The big band, orchestral approach - of course not all thirty-some musicians play at the same time - in combination with electronics and field recordings, works quite well. Sometimes it tends towards post rock, sometimes seventies progressive rock and sometimes to ambient music. It's collated together at times with strange breaks and movements - most likely due to the use of different studios - but quite curious it's never a problem. An album, despite all things rock, that is made in the studio, rather than that of a band playing a solid tune or tune. Spliced together from all sorts of sources, with the addition of outside ones, such as field recordings, this album is not as 'outsider' for Vital Weekly as initially thought. Forty years of experimenting with rock music, say starting with Phil Spector, The Beatles and everything else after that didn't go unnoticed for Function. It's a remarkable CD, one that is simply very good. Although nothing is really simple on this CD. (FdW)

ILLPHABETIK COM.PILL - (Compilation CD by Illphabetik)
American music avantgardist and theorist, Henry Cowell (1897-1965), claimed that rhythms are the noise of music. If anyone should question this theory, take a listen to this first compilation from Danish label Illphabetik. With only a short "Intro" from Bulletdodgers (including the sample of an American woman fussing about half the city listening to jungle music), there is hardly any time to prepare for the first assault of rhythmic mayhem from Danish artist Lisbent with the track "Gettet durch". Established in 2003, Illphabetik is an Internet-label, with an impressive number of mp3-releases, musically operating in a wide variety of electronic styles including Breakcore, IDM, Drum & Bass, Ambient, Hardcore, Electro, Glitch and Minimal. The weight on this compilation though, is put on harsh expressions of breakcore, hardcore gabber techno and sonic aggressions in general, quite often sucked into club-technoid atmospheres. From the distorted power noise track, "Subliminal bass" by Rawclaw across the dark and threatening drone-ambience from Roger 5 to the claustrophobic mix of house techno, bigbeat and harsh noise on Lisbent's "Spasmobotics". It soon comes clear that these artists know what they are dealing with. Other gems come from Meconium with his tracks "(K)illdick" and "Damn this blockhead". The blend of fast breakbeats, 303-Acid synthlines is quite remarkable here. Also Nais' filthy ode to Depeche Mode's track "Personal jesus", the track titled "Personal faeces", is far beyond your average breakbeat-track. Towards the end, comes a great ambient-oriented IDM-track titled "Asaru 5" launched by Leigon. Closing track is the funky track titled "The funk is much better" from Lisbent. Combining kitschy electronic sounds first of all reminiscent of early slot-machine Arcade games, strange samples of voices and 60's one-hit-wonders with ultra-heavy pounding distorted beats thrashed into the listener with maximum velocity, the track from Lisbent serves as a very intense closer to this hyperactive debut-CD-compilation from Illphabetik. All mp3-releases from Illphabetik can be downloaded for free, including playlists and cover-arts. Check out their web site. And check out this excellent debut-sampler - it is a great introduction to the label! (Niels Mark) Address:

Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words should be a familiar name to Vital readers. Fall, Fall, Falling is Thomas Ekelund, the flesh behind the DLSODW moniker, which also stands for concrete drone pop. And on this his third full length CD the emphasis is on pop. Shoegazer fans will find much here to rejoice in: hyper-saturated drone melodies with drum thuds drowning in the morass of digitally generated fuzz heaven bound. Dark ambient followers will find the bleakness a source of warmth. The pop tracks are balanced by the trademarked Dead Letters sound of inhuman scratchings of lost love gasping for air in decaying urban landscapes. Binary guitars sleep with micro cassette phonography and the after birth is Fall, Fall, Falling. Already this is one of my favorite albums of the year, a perfect mix of pop and decay. (Jeff Surak)

The accordion is an instrument not often connected to modern music and female composers in the avant-garde field are unfortunately scarce. Luckily Pauline Oliveros combines these two oddities with astonishing results. As one of the original members of the legendary San Francisco Tape Music Centre, Oliveros has become the godmother, if you like, of electronic music. Important records (if there ever was an appropriate name for a label, then this is it) have taken it upon them to re-release some of Oliveros' work. Accordion And Voice is one of those titles that cover the contents completely. The two long tracks on this album, Horse Sings From Cloud (her most famous composition dating back to 1975) and Rattlesnake Mountain, are reminiscent of the mantra-like work of La Monte Young, with long sustaining tones on the accordion supplemented by Oliveros singing. Perhaps a slightly long listen to the casual buyers, electronic music lovers will lap this up. The Wanderer features a second (live) version of Horse Sings From Cloud, this time performed by an accordion quartet. This version is more experimental than the one on Accordion And Voice. Duo For Accordion And Bandoneon is just that, whereas the title track was recorded with The Springfield Accordion Orchestra (featuring no less than 22 accordions and 5 percussionist). The more experimental and diverse nature of The Wanderer makes this the more varied listen of the two CD's. Both recorded in 1983, this is the first time these pieces have been made available on the CD format. Adventurous music for an unusual instrument. Important music indeed. (Freek Kinkelaar)

A tour-de-force by australian trumpeter Scott Tinkler. On request by Extreme Records, Tinkler took up the challenge to record a solo album of improvised music for trumpet.
Tinkler has a history of playing with numerous ensembles in Australia over the last twenty years, like The Australian Art Orchestra, The Paul Grabowsky Quintet and The Dale Barlow Quintet. More fame he gained with his own Scott Tinkler Quartet and Trio. Since 1997 Tinkler is traveling the world and playing everywhere. Based on his experience with performing solo, he decided that the CD for Extreme should contain music that he could play live as well. So you hear no overdubs, etc. on this disc. Everything was recorded during a four hour stay at a studio. "The most important aspect for me was to go into the studio with no preconceived notion as to what the outcome might be, this way I could enjoy whatever happened", explains Tinkler, who didn't record a solo-cd before. The result is an incredible cd of a brilliant trumpet-player with seemingly unlimited technical capabilities. Happily Tinkler does not lose himself into meaningless acrobatics. He is also gifted with a musical vision that makes him crossing many borders and breaking down boundaries. With great ease and 'souplesse' Tinkler tells his story. His extended techniques imply the use of other musical instruments as well. These range from a piano, a bass drum, a cymbal to a bucket of water. This way Tinkler brings about interesting resonating effects like in the piece 'Let'. Tinkler spreads about an incredible power through his expressive playing. 'Backwards' truly is a very rich cd, that proves again that free improvised music is still very much alive. Never a dull moment! (Dolf Mulder) Address:

Being pressed on clear vinyl and wrapped in a printed transparent vellum cover, the Hafler Trio's latest 7" is surrounded by a splendid aura even before you actually hear the music. The image on the front cites Christian iconography with the motif of Judith holding the head of Holofernes, albeit in a great 1920s photographic soft porn version. On the back there is a text that is printed on the inside of the sleeve and thus appears mirror-inverted on the outside, which nicely corresponds to the hermetic nature suggested by the text itself. The music lends itself to (albeit rather helpless) poetic visual metaphors: distant, yet most sensuous drones, blurred as if heard through a fine acoustic haze, with sounds moving about like bizarre shadows, devoid of sharp contours. One might wonder if the 7" format is the right choice for this kind of music, and in the case of this release the answer is a definite yes. There are some particularly fascinating moments on these tracks, most notably the final passage of side one and the trembling, slowly speaking female voice on the flipside. The latter is unmistakably human and even sounds familiar in a way, but at the time it is of an highly unnatural, almost ghost-like character. The former is marked by a limited frequency range and a use of distortion which hint towards the aesthetics of gramophones or antique loudspeakers, without actually citing it, thus evoking a sense of nostalgia while keeping away from any obvious references. It's the sheer fact that the 7" formats emphasizes the ephemeral nature of these passages that makes them even more precious - indeed, this release is a precious artifact throughout, exciting and unsettling in its beauty as well as in its exquisitely auratic appearance. (Magnus Schaefer)

The name Robert Witt might not ring an immediate bell, but he's the guy who graduated from art school with sound installations and live manipulation of sound, most notorious the live processing of knitting, which was later remixed by a whole bunch of people in the 'Grannittin' project (see Vital Weekly 545), in a knitted sock on the same label that is now responsible for his solo debut release. For his current release, with nine tracks, he samples whatever he feels is interesting to use: "his own voice, plastic bags, clicks and tics, things out of movies, dutch pirateradio and contemporary music". All of these samples are then manipulated inside the computer. Witt assembles lots of small loops and creates densely layered patterns (to stay in the analogy of knitting) with these. He treats similar loops slightly different with all sorts of plug ins. His music gets something mechanical and also some rhythmic. Not that he produces dance music, although the opening 'Jen_kun-fu' could easily be mistaked for a Chain Reaction outtake. This doesn't happen with the other pieces. His sources are most of the time obscured through the deliberate clouds he produces out of them. At times intense and loaded with anger, such as is in 'Du345052', but he also has a great sense of humor in some of the other pieces. It's a pretty strong debut with music that defies categorization. It's experimental enough, but falls outside noise or microsound, techno or other forms of rhythm based music, but has enough power of its own. (FdW)

The recent Vertonen music were a real blast of noise. Fine for the noise heads, but not really my thing that much. I'm glad to see and hear this beauty. A nice small balsa wood box with a wrap around is already visually good. The music is of stunning beauty too. 'Not All Who Wander Are Lost' is an epic, eighteen minute piece of very low humming tones. Perhaps done on analogue synth or two? Maybe on a computer? Who knows. It is a minimally changing piece of music in the best drone tradition and as such nothing new under the drone sun, but it's done with absolute great care and skill. It's along the lines of work he produced on his Crippled Intellect, such as 'Orchid Collidor' (see Vital Weekly 482), but with even more refinement. Still heavily in debt with Eliane Radigue and The Hafler Trio, this is a great work. If this is a forecast of what is to come, I'm more than delighted to hear that. The best Vertonen yet. (FdW)

"Avoid old fashioned habits such as tonality and rhythm." A mantra to live and create by, Hal McGee exemplifies this creed on his latest release, The Man with the Tape Recorder. Recorded over a span of two weeks this past May with a micro cassette recorder and a rental car, this is lofi subversion at its best. Random snippets of speech are interspersed with circuit bent electronics. Pause button editing, complete with the sudden swishing sound of the tape heads hitting the tape, propel this album ahead. McGee pontificates his screeds of the creative process amongst random conversations with passersby. Guerrilla phonography or Burroughs cutups unleashed on the unsuspecting. Chaotic but with a determined logic of its own making, this is one of McGee's strongest releases yet in his 25 plus years of audio fluxist activity. McGee's analog madness is refreshing in our overly digital world and never succumbs to retro stylings or nostalgia. You can download or stream this or even purchase a cdr from Hal himself. You'll be glad you did. (Jeff Surak) Address:

The complete "Vital Weekly" is available at: Vital Weekly

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