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Vital Weekly 586

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OPITOPE - HAU (CD by Spekk)
It's been indeed quite a while, since last hearing from Ken Ikeda, who released two albums on Touch, 'Tzuki' (see Vital Weekly 256) and 'Merge' (see Vital Weekly 387). He now lives in New York, where he is concerned himself with sound art and visual installations. If I understand correctly his new CD 'Mist On The Window' is made with an instrument he built himself using rubber bands and synthesizers. Those thick rubber bands that is used to wrap around the mail. It's good to know this, since my initial guess was that this had to do with quite similar concrete sounds and software. I was right about the similarity of the sounds, but it has to be understood in terms of a concept album. How the synthesizers respond or react to the rubber bands I don't know, but it seems to me that those are triggered by them in a sort of call and response game. Ikeda plays nine relatively short pieces, each displaying its own character and throughout it's very nice pieces of music, well rounded. Sketch like, microsound, minimal - tag words for the releases on Spekk that also apply to the work of Ikeda. Great come back.
I never heard of Opitope, which is a duo of Date Tomoyoshi and Chihei Katakeyama, which was formed in 2002. Chihei has a solo CD on Kranky, which of course I didn't hear. Instruments used are electronics, electric guitar, piano, bass, vibraphone and electronics. The album is about traveling from north to south, but also about mirroring. I am not sure if I entirely grasp their idea about the mirrors they used, but it seems that particular sounds return, so the piano from track 1 (opening piece obviously) returns in track 9 (closing piece). Opitope play a much more 'musical' set of songs, other then Ken Ikeda, who rather stays on the sound scape side of things, whereas Opitope is more into playing songs hidden as sound scapes (or vice versa). Warm ambient glitch is to be found here, with reversed guitars, tinkling bells, a bit of field recordings and minimalist cracking. Quite nice actually, perhaps a bit watery (like the colors used on the cover) and it could have perhaps used a bit (even if only a teeny bit) more power. But Opitope perform their music with great care and skill and make a relaxed sunday morning listening. (FdW) Address:

Sadly enough music by the likes of Black Dice never reaches this desk (or anything from Fat Cat, which makes us very sad after all our initial support), since what was heard was enjoyed to quite an extent. Eric Copeland is a member of Black Dice, but also from Terrestrial Tones and luckily enough we get promo's from Paw Tracks and so the debut solo album by Copeland landed here. I must say I quite enjoyed this rather free form music. Not free form in terms of free jazz or improvised playing, but throwing everything into a sampler and see what comes out. Ethnic percussion, popmusic, radio snippets, more vocals, field recordings: this blender has all. Copeland stews this up in a hot mix of sounds. Rhythm plays an important role, but it's not a steady beat or some such. He rather lets the sounds say 'loop' and in the mix of them he creates a dialogue between them. So it's not really 'careful' placing of elements, but rather let all go and see what happens. That gives the album an almost psychedelic atmosphere, but in an electronic context. Loads of sound effects are used but all in the right manner - making everything richer and bouncier. There is something certainly vibrant about all of these recordings. Good head space music, that should work well on the alternative dance floor too. (FdW) Address:

MICHEAL PRIME - BORNEO (2CD by Mycophile Records)
This is of course the time of the year that lots of people ask me where I will spent my holidays and I must report that going on holidays is something I never liked particularly, save for one reason: to hear sounds that you normally don't hear around the house. I am pretty sure other people do like holidays for better reasons, but who knows about Micheal Prime? He's a man who likes plants and the sounds they make, with stuff he made himself to make the sounds audible. In February 2005 he travelled to Borneo, the north part called Sabah, to record bioelectrical signals from flora and fauna. On the way he taped some more sound, not being restricted to just the birds and the bees. On this double pack one gets the whole sound picture, as it's neither a plain documentation of recordings of plants, nor an overcomposed work: it's a combination of both. There are the pure field recordings, but also compositions using these sounds and installation pieces using live processing of the sounds. On the double CD side they are not back to back but mixed, which makes a great listening session. Insect sounds, the activity of people working on the market, plants, they all found their way to this release. In a great cross over between musique concrete and field recordings, Prime took me on a fascinating journey. One which I didn't need leaving the house for. And if that isn't enough, there is also a sub-edition of 95 copies which holds an extra 3" CDR with bat recordings and a small bag of Tongkat Ali powder. Everything is housed in a metal box. Excellent stuff all around. (FdW)
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ANDY MOOR - MARKER (CD by Unsounds)
A solo CD by someone who likes improvising, an activity usually done with others, it's a bit like masturbation, perhaps? Or, to be on the more positive side of things, perhaps a showcase to send around to fellow improvisers? Andy Moor is in the pages of Vital Weekly known as an improviser with the likes of Kaffe Matthews, but in the real world he is of course the guitarist of The Ex, my all time favorite dutch punkers. Favorite just for the fact that they don't stay inside that little closet called punk, but get out and do so many other things, playing with musicians from Africa and from the world of improvisers. Moor might very well be responsible for the latter move of The Ex, so a solo CD by him is perhaps more than welcome. He plays electric guitar with objects and hardly any effects. Over the past five years he off and on recorded his pieces, and this collection shows a wide variation of moods and textures. Some in punk fashion, but mostly in a melodic style, uptempo, downtempo, melancholic and distorted. Fifteen tracks, spanning over fifty-four minutes, that might sound a bit much, but Moor effectively holds your attention, when moving through all these pieces. Mostly solo guitar, but also overdubbed and layered, there is a lot to discover here. Not masturbation but a great card. Less is Moor. (FdW)

The first two releases by Thanos Chrysakis came to us in the form of MP3 releases (see Vital Weekly 506), but now he is confident enough to release a real CD on his own Aural Terrains label. Chrysakis lives in London where he composes his music, plays the vibraphone and builds installations. His 'Inscape 5' piece won a prize in Bourges and 'Nekyomanteion' received an honorary mention in Lisbon - welcome to the world of serious music. On 'Klage' the vibraphone plays an all important role, but it's also half the story. Chrysakis feeds the signal of the vibraphone through various pieces of software, and crafts both signals together in a highly interesting form of microsound and ambient glitch. The warm sounds of the vibraphone, which the instrument has by nature, is kept alive in this work where the computer software produces likewise warm sounds. Beautiful colliding material, sometimes played in a free, almost improvised manner, and at other times in a more straight forward manner. Of course the fusion of a real instrument with software is something that has been explored a lot, even in the context of microsound, and on many occasion as nice as Chrysakis does here. As such Chrysakis fits a certain scene, but he does a great job here. Fluid music, flowing merely nice the stream. Soft, warm and as such perfect for a nice afternoon with lots of sunshine. (FdW) Address:

The dub sensibility, that was mentioned before in the reviews of Tokyo Mask and Filewile, is also quite a lot present and pointed out in the music of Biomass, on the new album 'Market' and also on the previous album 'Miledrops'. It's not a surprise that in a lot of the more alternative or mainstream electronic music there's a noticeable amount of diverse dub sounds and sensibilities, since for some time there is a kind of dub(-ambient) revival in the contemporary production of electronic music (hence the releases on Scape Records, by the artists Kit Clayton, Deadbeat and others from the label Thinner, etc.). The dub of Biomass is in the minimalistic rhythmic patterns and basses, that are cleverly shifting from the background to the surface, being very well present in the music. Biomass also fuses those dub patterns with a correct amount of carefully chosen slices of glitchy electronica, some sound frequencies, even a kind of techno inspired beats and rhythms in some tracks and some ambient atmospheres. Plus there are more ingredients in this music. While on the previous album 'Miledrops' the theme that was elaborated in the electronic music on that album was jazz (a mood that's present in the music on 'Miledrops' and also through the samples that Biomass is using there, that are taken from a record by Miles Davis), on 'Market' the elaborated theme is the blues mood, that is very cleverly settled in a very wide and appropriate contexts, within the electronic music in all 12 tracks on the album, keeping it interesting through the whole release. The most obvious use of blues on this record is when Biomass, applying the same approach as on the previous album, (as it's written on the cover of 'Market') uses samples and vocals from a blues recording, that are singing about the themes very much characteristic about the blues music. Furthermore, through the very well thought out music on the album Biomass places those lyrics, themes and issues in a very clever contexts, with an aim to rise questions about the contemporary society of consumption, questions about the freedom in the society (some of the lyrics in the track 'Dangerous blues' are: "You keep on talking about the dangerous blues. If I had me a pistol, I'd be dangerous too.") and rising other social and political issues and ideas that are of interest for Biomass. There's also a dvd part of the project, where through diverse and various images and scenes (of war or supermarket scenes, with hands taking as much products as they can) some of the tracks and the music from the album are presented and accompanied with a kind of loosely collected and combined images or video arts (that are made of images taken from television). But the main part of the whole release is the music, which is excellently done. Maybe it seems a bit simple when the repetitive sound patterns are longer, but that's done with a point and Biomass is doing that when wanting to point out some of the ideas that are present in the music. 'Market' is a great and excellent audio and video cd and dvd release that would be very interesting seeing how it would sound and look performed live. (Boban Ristevski) Address:

Thirteen weeks have been passed since reviewing 'Stofstuk', a business card CDR by Machinefabriek and as noted back then, it was the original piece for a remix project. If you think Machinefabriek is fast, then so are his remixers. It's done, pro-pro-pressed 2CD set, with a further ten remixes to be found on the website only. Bloody hell indeed, what a speed. The handy vacuum cleaner (which is what 'Kruimeldief' means) hoovers all the remixes together and is a today's who's who in interesting music, but Rutger Zuydervelt has also a bunch of friends that at least are new to me. So we find Pita, Alva Noto, Gert-Jan Prins, Steinbruchel, Mitchell Akiyama and Kim Cascone nicely along Julien Neto, Jeroen Vandesande, Strangelet, The No and Svarte Grainer. The original piece by Machinefabriek is also included here, with its subtle crackling and carefully building drones. Many took that as a reference to construct even more careful crackling and more subdued drones. That is nice, but nicer are those who did a little more to break away from that, I think. Greg Haines adds a bunch of stringed sounds to the world, Xela some curious field recordings/voices, Mitchell Akiyama, Henrik Rylander (great track), Gert-Jan Prins and Freiband exploring the noise side of it, which is great since it breaks the repeated sounds that some seem to love and re-use a bit too much. One Julien Neto has a great piece of ringing sounds, like a bunch of doorbells, and it's the best track of it all. Minimal, but not really drone like. Over 150 minutes of music, just on these two CDs. Leaves me to check out the website one day.
At the same Rutger Zuydervelt also releases his work with Mariska Baars, also known as Soccer Committe. Rutger did a remix of Baars before, and have been working together off and on since then. 'Clay' uses the voice of Baars (whom I saw play live in June, and who sounded like a female Oren Ambarchi, but with like wise sparse vocals) and the electronics of Zuydervelt, into a seventeen minute piece of drone music. The voice of Baars is merely chanting or humming and picked up through the microphone and effects of Zuydervelt and crafted into a great drone like music piece that works towards a heavy crescendo in the middle, and then dies out into total nothingness that lasts for quite a long time, and which is quite unlike Zuydervelt. Great piece. (FdW)

UK biggest small label is how Static Caravan advertises themselves these days, and rightly so. Their have close to 140 releases in eight years, and the 7" is probably their beloved format. And rightly so. All the time they come up with names I never heard of such as Starless And Bible Black, who released on their own Timbreland label as well as Locust Music. They play music which I really like, but which is too far out of my usual references. I read the press text and see 'Appalachian Folk' being mentioned, something about prog rock and ballads. Well, the two pieces are nice and foremost sweet pieces of music, with a strong melancholic touch. Popmusic, I mumbled, and decided not to care not knowing, but liking it all the more.
Static Caravan also produces some excellent CDRs, nicely printed on body artwork and great covers. I have no idea who The Owl Service is, but it must be that Steven Collins mentioned on the cover who recorded and mixed this home. If you are head down in music all day, like me, then there is not much room for film, so my knowledge on that front is virtually non-existent. The four pieces on this 3"CDR are, if understood correctly, covers of music from films, such as Psychomania, Girl On A Motorcycle, Die Screaming Marianne and The Wicker Man. So my reference to these four songs is null and void. The music is rather retro sounding, a bit cheesy film music, with loads of sustained guitars, crazy rhythms, organs and vocal snippets (from the films?). (FdW)

The name of Isnaj Dui popped up in Vital Weekly 552 when it was mentioned she contributed flute to the release by Superimpozer. 'Patterns In Rocks' is her second release. Her being Isnaj Dui, also known as Katie English. She plays flute (concert and bass), home made instruments such as the electrodulcimer and electronics. The electronics at work here aren't any forms of soft or hardware, but rather those sampling gadgets that allows the player to form small loops on the spot of whatever they are playing so they can play along or against it. However she also cares about the background noise and hum as part of the overall composition. The eight pieces on this release do not always sound as flute pieces but some, like '440' and 'Plagioclase Feldspar' sound more like very ambient pieces with glitch elements. The meandering tones of the flute make this actually throughout quite a nice album of ambient music; highly melancholic in approach, but it stays safely away from any new age connection, which makes this all the more enjoyable. The experimental touch is always there, and it's throughout a most enjoyable, late night listening experience. (FdW)

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