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Vital Weekly 589

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The Staubgold imperium spreads its wings further now they signed Alejandro Franov from Argentina. It's not the first time that a folk/world musician comes to a Western label, say the Vital Weekly area: Jorge Reyes was about a decade ago the man from Mexico releasing on labels as Staalplaat. In a way Franov can be compared to Reyes. Franov plays three instruments: the african Mbira, the Paraguayan harp arpa and the Indian sitar, along with percussion, voice and a little bit of electronics. Reyes limited himself to traditional Mexican instruments, but there are resemblances in sound - me think, while I have to add that I most certainly not someone who knows his way in the world of world music. The music of Franov is throughout peaceful and calm. The rhythm is tapped on the tabla, and a swirl of ethnic sounds are rolled like cosey warm bed. The sitar plays it's raga like tunes, but it's never uptempo. Dreamlike, meditative, late night lounge music, sipping a good cocktail. Or, as in my case, good music to wake up to with a pretty heavy hangover. Very pleasant by all means. (FdW) Address:

Probably best known for his ambient drums and bass albums as Omni Trio, Haigh's earlier, and much more electronic-avant-garde work with Sema has been criminally overlooked by the digital format. This is a true shame as 1982's Notes From Underground LP belongs to the best that the genre has to offer. Growing tired of his early work, Haigh moved to semi-classical piano pieces with the release of the beautiful Valentine Out Of Season LP on United Diaries, which is also still not available on CD. On From The Air Haigh creates 9 beautiful instrumental tapestries of haunting melodic piano pieces combined with shifting drum patterns. Definitely not dance nor strictly experimental and never obtrusive, From The Air is brilliantly positioned between Haigh's work with Sema and his later work as Omni Trio. The first edition of this album comes with a bonus CD with one long ambient, eerie track incorporating voices, which is much more reminiscent of his earlier work with Sema. Now all we need are the four Sema albums on CD (Freek Kinkelaar). Address:

WALDTEUFEL - SANGUIS (CD by Beta Lactam Ring)
More than 3 years in the making, this new album by Waldteufel (German for Wood Devil) comes in a beautiful heavy book-like gatefold cover, which, unfortunately, gives no other information than artist and album title. This is a shame, as this release would benefit from more background information. For instance, how else would we known that the lyrics are based on writings by German Fin-de-Siecle artists Stefan George and Alfred Schuler as well as the ancient Indian Vedas? And if you think that sounds pretentious, you're right. Still, Waldteufel (Markus Wolff, also known from the band Crash Worship and his partner Tyrsson Sinclair) have managed to create a fascinating album filled with Teutonic avant-garde rock. Containing Gregorian-like chants with tom-tom percussion, German (spoken) lyrics embedded in creepy soundscapes, ritual passages and the occasional blast of distorted guitar, Sanguis is one of those albums you either fall in love with instantly or laugh you head off about. (Freek Kinkelaar)

Calling yourself Migraine Inducers might not be the best route to stardom. But then, this was released in 1979 at the birth of the DIY movement, which was all about making a defiant two-finger salute to stardom. A new generation of ambitious musicians armed with total artistic freedom released their music on the then-popular cassette format thus bypassing major record companies. Martyn Bates (of later Eyeless in Gaza fame) debuted with Dissonance/Antagonistic Music, a homemade cassette full of intense nervous fragmented soundscaping, not dissimilar to Nurse With Wound or an instrumental Throbbing Gristle. When the initial 12 copies had sold out, the tape was re-released slightly more professionally over the years and now, for the first time ever, as a double CD. Sonic exploration is the heart of this beautiful, stark masterpiece, which may not be easy on the ear on first take, but gradually grows and then, when you least expect it, proves itself full of harsh beauty. (Freek Kinkelaar)

In terms of big bands, The Splinter Orchestra can easily match up, size wise, with Mimeo, actually they have twenty-five players, instead of twenty-four, but in the past it even went up to fifty-five players. Among them we note names as Robbie Avenaim, Ben Byrne and Split Record labelboss Jim Denley. About every instrument is played here. Late last year the pieces on this CD were recorded as a 'set of improvisations and procedural compositions'. They like small sounds, with a natural flow for each of them to explore the specific sonic quality of each instrument. As you can understand it's not easy to keep things under control, but The Splinter Orchestra succeeds very well in keeping control. It's not that they play a deliberate soft card here, it's au contraire, a very detailed recording with lots of sounds happening on all level. Large scale scrapings on a microscopic level, plinks and plonks all around, even crackle of electrical charges like in a good laptop improvisation are there. Occasionally things go 'wild' here, but that's only on very few moments, and even at that they don't reach for noise or deliberate loudness. It's more controlled hecticness than about loudness. One that requires loads of attention before it truly unfolds it's power. It would be great to see them all play together and learn how the interaction works here. (FdW)

MERSAULT - RAYMOND & MARIE (CD by Formed Records)
'IJ', the name of the latest CD by Toshimaru Nakamura and Lucio Capece, is the name of some water part near Amsterdam, which is the city where this CD was recorded, at the legendary Steim Studios. Nakamura gets a credit for no-input mixing board and Capece for soprano saxophone, bass clarinet and preparations. Certainly this is not easy music. The level is quite low, which requires full on concentration so one can fully grasp what's going on. There are two pieces on this CD. It seems to me that in the first Nakamura has the bigger say, whereas in the longer second piece the Capece sounds are more to the foreground. So it's careful feedback backed with careful saxophone sounds. Everything seems to be happening with great pace and slow speed. Sounds come in, move around, disappear, every time displaying a new technique in playing or a new approach to the same sound. Highly concentrated and quite demanding material, but very rewarding.
When I first reviewed Mersault, I listed the names of the players as the artists and Mersault as it's title (see Vital Weekly 517), but now I understand that Mersault is actually the name of the group. The players are Tomas Korber (guitar, electronics), Christian Weber (doublebass) and Christian Wolfarth (drums). All three are high profile improvisation musicians from Switzerland, a land gifted with more talent in this area. This new work 'Raymond & Marie' sees a continuation from the previous release. Analogue improvisations on all three instruments meet up with the isolated electronics played by Korber, which seem to be a minority this time around. Much louder and audible than the other new release on Formed Records, this too has a wide range of dynamics. The playing ranges from soft and intimate to loud and menacing. Maybe because of this being a bit louder than Nakamura/Capece, the high level of concentration is less needed, and this comes all in a free form flow towards the
listener. An utter fine disc that doesn't sound to haphazard improvisation, but offers longer, sustaining blocks of improvised sound. (FdW)

BRUME - I'M... I COME... I WAS... (CD by Waystyx)
Russia's Waystyx is an ambitious label, and that's great. They now start with the first two of a total of thirteen releases by Brume, from the period 1978 to 2000. Those were the years that Frenchman Christian Renou used the name Brume and he released a whole bunch of cassettes back then. On the thirteen CDs you will find a selection of these, along with live material and unreleased recordings. Every CD will be released in an edition of 375 copies, so collector's item stamped all over it. The first two releases here were originally released by Tonspur Tapes with a three year interval, but it's Brume at his trademark sound. Using reel to reel multitrack recording, synthesizers, percussion and voice he creates his full on sound: never a moment of silence. The differences between these two are quite small. I'd say that 'Accident De Chasse' is a bit more minimal, with less sudden moves and that 'I'm... I Come... I Was...' is a bit more focussed on sound collage with a great deal of voices. Both releases are quite nice for everybody who loves that more industrial form of musique concrete.
Bad Sector, the project of Massimo Magrini, is always lumped in with the darker musics I know, from the likes of Old Europa Cafe and Cold Meat Industry. But it's not justly so, I think. Whenever I hear his music I think I should re-adjust my opinion. On 'Storage Disk 1', the first in a two part series, Magrini shows his love for old Soviet computers. Although it's not said with that many words, I think Magrini made the music with such computers, or perhaps with the sound of such computers. The overall tone of the music is indeed dark, but at times also rhythmic in a crazy sort of techno sense. There is what I would call a gothic undercurrent in this music, which is not well spend on me, such as in 'Jackie 1954', but overall it's a really nice CD of dark and atmospheric music that works best when it's a bit more abstract and uncontrolled, moving away from say popmusic. (FdW) Address:

MUURA - EL DORADO (CDR by Black Petal)
'El Dorado' sees the second release by Matt Earle from New South Wales, who is also known to be part of Stasis Duo, X-wave, Your Intestines, The Minerals, Antipan and XnobbgX, and owner of the cassette label Breakdance The Dawn, but as Muura he is the man with many hands: he apparently plays guitar, drums, analog synthesizer while singing. I must admit that the feature of singing is something I didn't hear in this new release. Like the previous 'Scarlet Urmine Sandstone Lady' (see Vital Weekly 526), Muura doesn't care much about the recording quality, using the lowest quality possible. More than before he plays around with... nothing actually. The three lengthy pieces are all about silence. An occasional bang, much hiss from the amplifier, and the empty space where Earle sits. Maybe it's easy to play many instruments when one doesn't, but at times there is something to be heard and one can sense the level of concentration of putting this together. I thought this was a great disc!
It's been a long time since we heard music by Brad Rose, that is music he played himself, as the releases on his on his Digitalis label reaches us all the time. He's also a musician playing in Corsican Paintbrush, Eastern Fox Squirrels and solo as The North Sea. This new one seems to be a take off from his 'The Oscelot Chronicles', of which we only heard volume one (see Vital Weekly 424). Back then it seemed to be about loud drone related ambient, here it's all singer-songwriter, well, in an odd kind of way. Brad plays guitar, percussion, harmonium, sings and gets occasional saxophone help. Private music of a desolate kind, but it's certainly not 'empty' music. There is a lot of action in his music. Brad does use multitracking, laying down lots of separate elements, that breath an air of naivety, but then well-produced. It all ends in the spacious, even psychedelic 'The Sun Went Out', which is by far the longest piece here and drifts about nicely, trapped in electronics, feedback and a swirling saxophone. (FdW)

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