RSS feed RSS Twitter Twitter Facebook Facebook 15 Questions 15 Questions

Vital Weekly 582

img  Tobias

After some years of absence, David Maranha, erstwhile of Osso Exotico then drone meister in his own right, is now back. Recently he released a CD with Minit under the banner of Organ Eye, and there he showed a changing interest in the drone field. It incorporated drones from instruments as well as electronics and had a edge to it which could be classified as 'rock'. This is continued on this new CD, under his name, but most certainly more a rock band then a solo effort. Maranha plays hammond organ, violin and dobro/resophonic guitar. João Milagre (bass) and António Forte (drums), Tiago Miranda (percussion) form the back bone while Helena Espvall playing the cello. The drone music played by this group is one that stands in a long tradition: from Yves Klein, Tony Conrad, LaMonte Young and Velvet Underground. Ongoing, banging rhythm features, with a dominant role for organ and cello, but, certainly in 'Infinity March' also for the rhythm section, which placed at the end makes a beautiful grand finale. The four preceding tracks are quieter, certainly 'Virgins Visions' (which is the only solo piece by Maranha here), but in the other three tracks things already rock like hell or drone like heaven. It moves away from the previous works by Maranha, which was the more classical overtone pieces of resonating strings and beautiful humming wave fields. The music is harsher, grittier, more angular, and I must admit very nice, because it goes back to a tradition which is not copied these days very much, and certainly not as nice. Its a great thing to see this done here, moving away from his earlier work, but still re-inventing drone music. Great stuff. (FdW) Address:

To be honest: I am and never was the biggest fan of Smegma, that free form combo from Portland, Oregon, but there are a few things which I like about them. The name for a start, but also the fact that they have been around for so long now, perhaps thirty years (judging by discography in the booklet, which goes from 1976 to 1988, and that it seems they never dramatically changed their sound. Also I believe they still play every week in Portland. An unique band. The booklet discography going to thirty-three releases by 1988 (including appearances on compilations) shows as the final entry, 'Morass', a cassette release on Soleilmoon (spelled Solielmoon, a common US mis spelling) and shortly before that 'Nattering Nayboss Of Negativity', a LP for Dead Man's Curve, the long gone UK label from Dave Henderson (who also compiled 'Three Minute Symphony' and 'Elephant Table Album'). Smegma is, musically, also a curious band. They use the format of a rock band, although it seems no one can really play an instrument properly, including vocals that hardly make sense. But to their total free playing of whatever instrument comes in hand, they also make use old reel to reel recorders, making loops on them, or inserting weird sounds and conversations in the mix. This links them, certainly in the period of their career covered on this release, to say Nurse With Wound and P16.D4, with whom they worked on 'Distruct'. The mayhem here is spread over twenty-one tracks and at so much chaos I must admit its a bit too much chaos, but it's also good to hear it after so many years. It shows Smegma in a phase of their career where they got more and more international recognition and places them alongside The Nihilist Spasm Band as true outsiders to the format or (free) rock music and musique concrete. This is a great re-issue! (FdW)

Years pass by without reviewing anything by Australia's Tim Caitlin, and here is the second release with him in a few weeks, following his release 'Radio Ghosts' on 23Five Incorporated (see Vital Weekly 579). Here he teams up with Jon Mueller, the US percussion player and owner of Crouton Music. Both Tim and Jon love resonant frequencies from their instruments. They prepare their instruments with objects and watch the thing play itself, as it were. This is how drone music can be made. Caitlin using motorized objects to play his guitar and Mueller places various parts of his drumkit on top of eachother and below is a amplifier with sine waves or a cassette player with such like to get the whole pile moving. The recent CD by Caitlin was a nice one, but effectively also a sound that can be heard on many other releases, here, on this collaboration however, together with somebody who does similar things but to a less common instrument, it works much better. The drones set forward by the two is almost violent in approach. Mean, up there, present, this is not the sort of drone music that lulls the listener into a state of sleep, but keeps him awake. A pretty strong release of highly captivating drone music. The cover is great too: a 10" cover with a hand stuck print on by painter/printer Thomas Kovacich of two different pieces of monochrome types, each reflecting the color of the other - the perfect visualization of this collaboration. (FdW) Address:

Eliane Radigue is known artist in the fields of drone related music. Born in Paris, she studied electro-acoustic music techniques under the direction of Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry. I'm familiar with her 'Adnos' release, in her music she uses Arp synthesizer and recording tapes. She has become a Tibetan Buddhist in 1975 when stopped composing for some time and when getting back to music in 1979 she continued to work with the Arp synthesizer, which has become her signature. 'Jetsun Mila' is one of her works inspired by the Tibetan poet and yogi Milarepa and another CD on the same theme is 'Songs of Milarepa', released also by Lovely Music. Eliane Radigue received a "Commande de l'etat" from the French Government to compose 'Jetsun Mila' and the piece was originally performed, recorded and produced by the artist in 1986. The music on this double CD release is separated on both CDs and there's one longer piece on each CD, the second continuing where the first ends. The atmosphere on both of the CDs is very calm, a bit more unsettling on the second CD, with it's sensibility it is in many aspects like ambient music and it has a distinctive atmospheric sense. This music is also very poetic and thinking about that, while listening to it, I can conclude that 'Jetsun Mila' can be perceived as poetry, in a very subtle and wide meaning characteristic about that word. (Boban Ristevski)

With "Commuter Anthems" Eivind Opsvik and Aaron Jennings present their second album. Their first one, "Floyel Files" (NCM East) dates from 2005. Mister Opsvik comes from Oslo, living in the States since 1998, and playing bass in too many groups and projects to mention here. To put it simply, he is deeply involved in the New York Downtown scene. Jennings is a guitarplayer who has his roots in Tulsa, Oklahoma. But who is also living nowadays in New York. To give a first hint for what they are up to on their new album, we can say it fits perfectly within the well-defined aesthetics of the Rune Grammophon label. "Commuter Anthems" is an interesting melting pot of a great many influences: easy listening, film music, muzak, jazz, pop, Bill Frisell, postrock, etc. It is evident that Jennings and Opvsik take their inspiration from almost everywhere. But nowhere the music sounds meaninglessly eclectic. No, they succeed from their various inspirations and experiences to create a very original musical universe, that result in a very satisfying musical experience. Opsvik plays double bass, electric bass, drums, percussion, piano, organ, theremin, vocals and software. Jennings: electric and acoustic guitars, lap steel, banjo, concertina, vocals, software and electronics. In some tracks they helped out by Ben Gernstein (trombone), Rich Johnson (trumpet) and Peter Opsvik (flute). So you understand this a real studio-product. But the music is very open and sounds loosely constructed, sometimes even in a collage-like way. The music they create is very accessible on the hand, and may pass by without noticing it like some ambient music, when listening superficially. The reward comes from listening with more concentration. As said above they use a great diversity of sounds and instruments, and they paint very colorful pieces with good feeling for style and a great sense for detail and finesse. Also their music is very well constructed in an inventive and original way, far from any cliché. Funny to find this sense for musical adventure within this friendly and comforting music. A great album. (Dolf Mulder)

The name Frederik Ness Sevendal popped up a few times in Vital Weekly, through his LP with Bill Wood of 1.3 Octave Band and a self-released CDR (see Vital Weekly 409 and 463). He has also played with people like Makoto Kawabata, Tabata, Lasse Marhaug and Crazy River. 'No Foly Bow' however is his first solo album. Sevendal plays guitar and sound effects. The result, the seven tracks that can be found on this release, is quite an interesting affair, as Sevendal doesn't have one sound in mind, but several. He can play a beautiful piece of drone music with various layers of sustaining guitars, but on top he plays a nice set of slide guitars. In the next track he can play a more melodic tune that harks back to folk music. It makes this into a highly varied CD release, but it works well. The various tunes, which were apparently created through improvisation (hard to believe really), make a consistent whole, and displays a true talent at work. Nice recording, with a keen ear for details, this might still appeal to the fans of music from New Zealand, especially when Sevendal plays a drone like piece, but he has so much more to offer. Great debut. (FdW)

Quite wrongly I believed work by Kraig Grady had been reviewed before, but a search through the vaults of Vital Weekly did bring nothing. Yet the name sounded familiar, perhaps I saw him on the microsound discussion list. Much to my surprise came this debut CD by him. Grady is connect to Anaphoria, which I believe is a made up land, where they have their own tuning system. Also they believe "that traveling religious artifacts have been known to cause earthquakes as the result of evil forces fleeing their presence". That aside, the music on 'Beyond The Windows Perhaps Among The Podcorn' is great. It's a composition Grady wrote for six players: cello, saxophones, bassoon, trumpet and two voices. They perform exact pitches 'but also to use the wide range of timbres possible'. Grady follows the tuning invented by Erv Wilson, whom he met in 1975. The slowly unfolds it's beauty in a strict modern classical sense of the word. No electronics are applied in this recording, which, if you didn't know this, would probably something you could all to easily think. There are references to people like Ingram Marshall or Alvin Lucier, but more to Phill Niblock, especially his string quartet. The listener is elevated in a seemingly weightless space through these vibrations and endless sustaining sounds. Music that can drive the listener if he is not open to it, but if you let this in, it's of an amazing beauty. I may say this before, but this is a stunning beautiful work, an instant classic piece.
At the same time there is also a 3" inch CDR played by Grady, Ellysa Shalla and Erin Barnes, who all play vibraphones. "Orenda is a both a Huran and Anaphorian word meaning 'that kind of power that mortals can summon to combat the blind forces of fate'". It starts out silent, but sooner than later becomes more audible and the overtones the three vibraphones can produce fill your space. But it's a percussive work, obviously, and it works well, but not as great as the full length. The true suspense that that one has, is a bit missed here, even when this is a fine work by itself, it's not the similar blow as the full length just produced. (FdW)

It's perhaps no big secret that I am a big fan of the work of Raymond Dijkstra, and maybe reviewing all of his previous work, entitled me to a copy of each of this: a big black wooden box with golden text, in an edition of merely 100 copies - the preprogrammed art item or well calculated collector's item? (You decide). Times three. Crouton released a big wooden box, while Dijkstra's Le Souffleur label releases two LPs at the same time in a linen hardcover box with debossed and gold print, like his previous 'Affen-Theater' (see Vital Weekly 479). Sound wise Dijkstra continues the road he choose now for a while. A while ago I saw him in concert, with Timo van Luyck, with whom he has an ongoing collaboration, and their set up is very simple. An ancient loop echo, a small table and a small bunch of objects that are played on the table, like glass, knives, forks and wood. On 'Maskenstilleben' Dijkstra continues this. Somewhere in the back there are the disharmonious drone like chords he plays, seemingly at random, whereas in the foreground there are scrapings and scratching of the surface, which are fed through the ancient echo machine (which, to be honest, could have been a little less). Perhaps the use of echo makes this 'electro-acoustic' music, but its merely a deception to call it like that. This is acoustic music in optima forma and one of a highly original kind. Composition? Not of great interest for Dijkstra. Structure? Nope. Being part of a scene? Which one, or in fact is there one? Not for Dijkstra. He claims to work best in strict isolation, building up the pressure and when he plays his music, he releases his pressure. Inside his closed system (both mentally and in the real world), he derives the sounds which he likes, plays them ad infinitum, without beginning or end. This is noise music, but stepped outside the relatively known genre of overload. This is improvisation, but not as we knew it. Total outsider music, as it's hard to come across Dijkstra, who hardly plays concerts. Not part of the serious music world, the underground noise scene, microsound or the laptop flock, he persists very much in his world. "Releasing my work I only do for metaphysical reasons; to keep all psychic and physical channels open, and maintaining a healthy system. It is not much more then relieving yourself in the toilet", he says. I hardly see anything more beautiful, both music and package wise, coming from 'relieving yourself in the toilet' (the analogy is a bit lost on me, but then I am an outsider to his world).
The differences between the three LPs is not very big. Normally it could result in me nagging about that, but in the case of Dijkstra you can only see the purity by which he works. We hardly complain about people using guitars and drums, so why should we complain about Dijkstra using objects like glass and metal? It's not the same song repeated three times. Each is genuinely different from the previous or the following record. The instruments remain the same, the 'composition' remains the same, yet, like a good monochrome painting, the differences are in the detail. 'Die Sonne' I thought was a bit more minimal than the other two, more sparse, while 'Maskenstilleben' was a bit more dense, and 'Die Wille', although close to 'Die Sonne' fell sort of in between the two.
After a bunch of self-released records, the release for Crouton may open more doors for Dijkstra, and probably he doesn't care, but at least the public should care. Three great LPs, by all means, although Art (big A in place) doesn't come cheap. (FdW)

Packaging craziness here: for whatever unknown reason, this release was smeared with shampoo, maybe to indicate we deal with nice music here? Hinsidan is a duo of Supertius and Atish Pare, and 'Shapeshifter Blues' is their second CDR release, while a 10" on Ant-Zen is forthcoming. That's about the extend of information to be given as we don't know anything else. 'Mastered by Lasse Marhaug' it says on the cover, but don't be fooled by that: Hinsidan doesn't produce noise music, although their machine like drone sometimes comes very close. In each of the seven pieces they enroll a drone that is omni present, enlarged and enhanced by sound effects to make it thicker and fatter, but also more of a menace. Only in one track, 'A Second In The Mind, A Day in The Life' they approach noise very close and it happens to be the weakest link here. The other six pieces are beautiful drone within the well-defined area of course and it makes a very solid release. I wouldn't be too surprised if they will have a release on Mystery Sea on day too. Very nice. (FdW) Address:

FORMATT - HIMIKO (2 3"CDR by Odradek)
Over the years we have come across the music of Formatt, in all sorts of formats really, but CDR remains the most important one. Here two of them arrive at once. The first, released on Belgium's Odradek label, is a double package with a 'multi-channel audio installation at Galerie Jan Colle in Ghent Belgium'. The idea is to play both CDRs at the same time, but I have no such set up. Even if I don't play them at the same time, I can form an idea what it would sound like, although no clear view what this installation would have looked like. One CDR has the more longer, sustaining sounds which seems to be derived from radio transmissions, while the other has a shorter, more irregular web rhythmical sounds, which no doubt was derived from similar source material. Nice, but I think a mixed stereo version would have been preferred here.
How this can work is heard on 'Minor Curations', released on New Zealand's Pseudo Arcana (and maybe an unlikely label for Formatt). More microscopic sounds treated through the big computer screen and plug ins running amok. There is an extensive use of the delay machine, which add, oddly enough, a sort of lo-fi quality to the music, which was perhaps appealing the Pseudo Arcane labelboss. It makes a pretty strong release all together. Not by a new and refreshing look at the genre of microsound, but just by itself: an intense piece of computerized processing of sound. Nervous, hectic, dark and sometimes menacing. A very fine and refined piece. (FdW)

MATT KREFTING - MAN IN REVOLT (cassette by Hank The Herald Angel Recordings)
When checking if I wrote about Matt Krefting before, I came to the sad conclusion I didn't. Which is odd, since he's closely connected to my beloved Idea Fire Company. Krefting is also a member of many other bands, such as Son Of Earth, Duck, Itchy Pits, The Believers, Destroyer and many more. He plays everything, everywhere and with everyone. 'Man In Revolt' is the total opposite: he's alone at the piano, plus perhaps a bunch of electronics, most likely guitar effects. These are kept however to a minimum, as the main thing is the piano. It's an utter lo-fi, hiss covered tape, but no doubt it's intended to be like that. Minor keys are played, while the sustain pedal is pressed down hard to add that darker texture to the music. On the B-side there is a short track 'Forgets Breakfast' which is made with fog horns (or so it seems). It's a great release, along the lines of the recent Graham Lambkin CD, or even Organum's recent work ('Amen'). A pity that it's on cassette and not CDR - maybe I could ask for a re-issue? (FdW) Address:

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

Related articles

CD Feature/ Toshiya Tsunoda & Civyiu Kkliu
Silence and the return of ...
CD Feature/ Steve Roach & Loren Nerell: "Terraform"
Real and three-dimensional: The mind ...
CD Feature/ asher: "landscapes elsewhere"
Asher plants melodic fragments into ...
CD Feature/ 230 Divisadero: "A Vision of Lost Unity"
An apocalyptic electro-acoustic mantra-like black ...
CD Feature/ Pneumatic Detach: "[Re-Vis-Cer-A]"
Back to the dirty clubs.
Vital Weekly 546
Frans de Waard presents the ...

Partner sites