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Vital Weekly 591

img  Tobias

A big smile of excitement and surprise turned upon my face when I opened the 12K parcel (when they arrive they get opened and played first): Giuseppe Ielasi on 12K. Now that's a surprise. I can't say why exactly, maybe it was always coming, but after the recent bunch of new talent, it's perhaps the surprise of seeing an arrived musician at 12K. Ielasi's tracks still clock in at somewhere between six and eight minutes, but unlike his previous releases, he has five instead of four. I kinda suspect Ielasi to like the good old vinyl album length approach. Ielasi plays his favorite instruments again: the guitar of course, piano, hammond organ, dobro, synthesizers and shortwave and he's out to teach us lesson. The lesson being that you don't need a laptop only to make warm glitchy music. His guitar playing is anything but a guitar, but in stead he plays long form drones. On the other instruments he also creates a large humming and droning stream of sounds, which is densely layered together, with phase shifting patterns. Slow, but always on the move. Where there is room, Ielasi throws in some delay. Yet there is never a muddy sound, and everything remains crystal clear. Following his previous solo releases on Sedimental and Häpna, this is another fine addition to his catalogue.
As a solo artist Ielasi is also different than many other improvisers. On his solo CDs Ielasi manifests himself as a composer, and not the explorer of a single instrument. But never forget that Ielasi's main body of work lies inside improvisation. Well, that is: he has more works available created with others than solo work. I never heard of Nicola Ratti, nor do I know how the division, but Ratti and Ielasi are both credited with guitars, percussion, turntables, electronics. This is a different aspect of Ielasi, a much more free man, playing his guitar and electronics, while Ratti, I assume at least, plays drums and turntables. Great pieces, of which especially the first two should be noted as powerful statements of glitch meeting popmusic. Whispering guitar and distorted, almost vocal like sounds. Other pieces they are more in 'regular' areas of improvised, with at times even a more noise outing, but throughout this is a high and mighty fine disc, that showcases Ielasi's talents quite well. (FdW)

SWOD - SEKUNDEN (CD by City Centre Offices)
It's been a while since we last reviewed something by City Centre Offices, so how (and if) this music saw any development, I might not be able to tell. Swod stands for Stephan Wöhrmann, who plays guitar, bass and electronics and Olivier Doerell, who plays drums and piano. The latter being the most important instrument on this CD. Ah more piano. More and more piano. I suggest you go back to last week's issue and re-read the review of Mikronesia, and see what I said about the piano. (pause). Fine, the difference now with Sekunden is that the other instruments may play a minor role, the role is there however. The guitar, the few field recordings, bass and drums fill in the rest. Compositions are started on the piano, which appears here to be untreated, and the rest is added later on. More folk electronic than techno-related, so in that sense the music released by City Centre Office has progressed. But it doesn't mean I am throughout in favor of Swod. The nine tracks are quite similar in approach, the way they are built up and how the develop, which sounded throughout quite single minded. It could be the same piece throughout, with minor variations. That is a pity. Now they are nine, but they could have been four or twenty also. But four would have been an amount that I would have preferred. Nice, great music even, but a bit too much of the same. (FdW) Address:

Several weeks ago I introduced the new 7272Music label, with two inspiring cd singles by Matt Weston, a drummer and composer from Chicago. Now I have a third cdsingle in my hand that I like even more. Again with Matt Weston playing percussion and electronics. Or should I say electronics and percussion? Both pieces 'Holler' and 'Do you hear me?', are the product by a very imaginative and creative musician. 'Holler' is a like a little symphony, with great variation in dynamics and volume. Pre-recorded improvisations on drums are mixed up with electronics sounds and manipulated in a way that reminds me of good old tape music, Dockstader, Tietchens anbd Arcane Device. It's aA very successful combination of improvised drumming and manipulation afterwards, resulting in a carefully built composition.
'Do you hear me?', is a completely different structured piece. The music moves linear towards its end, keeping up a constant stream strange sounds. The sounds seem to come from scratching over the surface of percussive objects. And it gives the effect of some strange choir singing. In both pieces the music has a archaic and primitive feel. Very physical and human. Weston is a musician with a vision. Not sure where this music touches on, but I can tell you, this music really goes deep. Very disturbing and moving music from artist to watch. (Dolf Mulder) Address:

@C & VITOR JOAQUIM - DE-TOUR (CD by Feld Records)
People create music out of various reasons, and one is a fascination for sound. @C are such people. This duo, of Miguel Carvalhais and Pedro Tudela, play their music in a rather improvised way, at home or in concert. They like to play with other people, and everything is recorded. The recordings are never released as is, but act as new building blocks for new compositions. Their 'De-Tour' ('de' as in German) saw them play in various German cities, along with Vitor Joaquim (who joins them in Portugal too), but also Harald 'Sack' Ziegler on his horn, Pure on the laptop, Fried Dähn on the electric cello. Everything was recorded and the CD that now lies in front of us, is the culmination of editing and recomposing. They do a fine job of cracking sounds, the laptop's working overtime here, but this is not just purely microsound of pure glitch: @C & Vitor Joaquim never loose the musical component out of sight here. It's rhythmic on all sides, voices are used, a bass line is never far away, but it's also built of glitches, hiss and noise. Through their years of existence, @C have matured their playing and are confident improvisers on the laptop. When Sack's waldhorn comes in, things are just great. Very musical. Very nice work. (FdW) Address:

OÖPHOI - UPUAUT (CD by Nextera)
Both these releases are re-issues, in the case of Wiese a cassette from the 80s and in Oöphoi's case it was a private concert recording that has been bootlegged since it's recording in 1999. The Oöphoi CD deals with the secret room of the Pyramid of Cheops which one Rudolf Gantenbrink tried to discover by a small robot by the name of Upuaut. The music is a 'symbolic journey from Darkness to Light', Oöphoi says. He gets help from Amir Baghiri and Matthias Grassow in the last fifteen minutes of this journey. Of course I am doing this all wrong. Outside the sun is shining, at last, it's fully mid day when I am listening to music that no doubt works better at evening, in a darkened room, with headphones. Oöphoi plays synthesizers and Grassow adds voice, tibetan bowls and bells, whereas Baghiri does the treatments. It's a work that is of deep sonic richness, ambient music with the big A, although it also bends towards new age, in all it's serenity. But things stay on the good side of things and its a highly atmospherical piece of music. Even the clouds coming seem to agree.
The Klaus Wiese release was originally released on a cassette in the early 80s and 'became a kind of 'cult-music', especially in therapeutic circles', it says on the cover. The music was made with tamburas, asian harps, voices, bells and wind. 'Baraka' means 'blessing from above' and it's quite a natural piece of music. Perhaps if I didn't know how things were made, I would have guessed electronic means, but now that I know, I can appreciate it even better. It's very slow, textural music with, just as the Oöphoi a bit of a new age touch, but here too things stay luckily on the safe side. Nothing new or earth shaking radical new points of view in the world of ambient music, but a good relaxing piece (actually two) of music. Very nice, very smooth. (FdW)

It is amazing when you realize that someone with a career like Lou Reed, basically released only two truly essential solo albums. Harsh perhaps, but true. One, of course, is Berlin and the other one is Metal Machine Music. Both couldn't be more apart. Whereas Berlin is full of lushly orchestrated, beautiful yet stark songs about the break-up of a drugs-inflicted relation, Metal Machine Music is, well, all about noise. Four sides of cacophonic guitar feedback noise fed through effects and modulators, which outraged Reed fans at the time. In 1975 the album was returned to the stores by hordes of his fans. RCA, Reed's record company at the time, threatened to drop Reed from their label if he didn't supply them with a radio-friendly album (which became Coney Island Baby, most certainly more mainstream than Metal Machine Music and featuring the beautiful title track). Even the recent CD remaster (created by Reed himself) of Metal Machine Music sold poorly. This Zeitkratzer CD however, offers a third life for the album that has turned out to be the most hated album by any major artist ever. In 2002 Zeitkratzer recorded a live version of the music in Berlin (sic!) with a full orchestra incorporating violins, cello as well as the master himself on guitar. Zeitkratzer director Reinhold Friedl leads the orchestra with firm hand through the blistering atonal music, which remains remarkably close to the original. The original album played 16 minutes per side (with a locked groove at side 4 for real masochists). Unfortunately this edition is less conceptually timed. The three long tracks on this version are a harsh listen, but Vital readers will find them strangely comforting after a while. There's plenty of high pitched ringing of strings, which - and that is the true beauty of this release - sound nothing like an orchestra playing. The master himself joins the orchestra in the final 5 minutes of the performance. When Reed plays his guitar and the drums (!) set in, it almost sounds like the Velvet Underground circa 1966. The accompanying DVD features the full live show filmed in a slightly static way. There is also an interview with Reed tagged at the end, where Reed spills the beans on Metal Machine Music. The interviewer is blatantly annoying with questions lasting up to 5 minutes. Reed stays polite throughout and even cracks a few subtle jokes. Now recognized as a classic in the field of avant-garde freeform music, Metal Machine Music certainly deserved to be heard and this live version is a wonderful opportunity to get (re) acquainted with one of most adventurous pieces ever composed by a major rock musician. As Reed stated on the original album "my week beats your year".
The same ensemble, but with different credits, performs a work by Reinhold Friedl, called 'Xenakis [A]Live', which is not strictly a performance of a Xenakis work, but Friedl own interpretation the work of Xenakis. I may not call myself to have the knowledge at all on the late Greek master, having never got much further than the excellent 'Persepolis' work, but it seems to me a good starting point to enjoy this work. The stapling of sounds, the metal sheets cracking and other musical motives to envisage a city in decay, are exactly the elements that Friedl seems to enjoy. He orders his ensemble to reproduce these elements on their acoustic instruments and succeeds wonderfully well in capturing the same mood as Xenakis did in his work, be in 'Persepolis' or other, electronic works. Great powerful music. The video that comes here is not a registration of Zeitkratzer playing this live, but an animation by Lilevan, which looks nice, but doesn't necesarily add much to the music, and I could easily do without. (Freek Kinkelaar/FdW) Address:

C.C.C.C. - EARLY WORKS (4CD by No Fun Productions)
This week's four CD box with retrospective material comes from C.C.C.C., the Japanese four some noise band, which stopped ten or so year ago. I must admit I didn't know this. Alas, you can't know it all. The band had three people playing noise on synthesizers, electronics, metal sheets and vocals plus the fourth member playing bass - that is a rather unusual combination. The vocals were done by Mayuko Hino, who added a performance aspect to the music, by dripping hot candle wax on her naked body, which made me think a nice DVD retrospective could be in place too. As much of what C.C.C.C. did was made through improvisation, so it's hardly a surprise that seven of the eight pieces are live recordings. All tracks are around the thirty minute mark, except the first track on disc four which is forty-seven minutes. Usually C.C.C.C. play a barrage of noise in which sounds keep on colliding to eachother, and from every collision, something new arises. A process that is repeated through each of these pieces. There is however something psychedelic about this music. Once you dive in, you get sucked into this endless stream of sounds, which continue to develop, rather than the usual noise, which is more about the noise itself, and not so much about the development. I must admit that back in the day I kinda ignored C.C.C.C. thinking it was just another Japnoise band, but this set proofs me wrong. There is something uniqiue about them. A reunion is not likely to happen, I read in the extensive liner notes (great!!), but this set fills a few holes in history. (FdW)

5 MODULES - III (CDR by Manual)
All three of these releases came from the house of Mattin, who acts here as labelboss and musician. I frankly don't understand why 'Symphony For A Genocide' by Maurizio Bianchi is re-issued again. Originally, in 1981, as a LP on Sterile Records and it was part of the first MB boxset 'Archeo MB'. I am not sure if that one is entirely sold out, but Mattin W.M./or label does an exact reprint of that CD, including the same three bonus tracks. I admit right away that this is a classic M.B. recording: loud, heavy, shocking and a landmark in the industrial culture. If you don't want to own everything by M.B. but a true highlight than this could be that highlight.
The good thing about not having money, is that one doesn't have to worry how to make more money. I am not sure if Saladin has money, or shares, but the stock market is the starting point for his 'Stock Exchange Piece'. He took the rates of oil and gold over a fifty day period, and 'translated' the fluctuations into sine waves. So if the rate is 61.43 dollar for a barrel of oil today, then he will pick that as frequency in sinewaves and with the gold it's dollars per ounce (oil becomes low frequencies and gold higher frequencies). Each day, one minute. There is a bit which I don't understand about the 'moving averages' (MA50), but alas I can't be economic about that. That's about it. The result, one might ask, any good? Yes it is. The fluctuations don't jump around a lot, but it moves up and down, and slow as it is, the piece moves up and down in a slow. A great slow, heavy drone piece.
Certainly a difficult release on offer is the one by 5 Modules, a collaborative effort by Rya Hankil (one clockwork and contact mic), Jin Sangtea (laptop, radio), Taku Unami (laptop) and Mattin (laptop). They question 'time' here. When are you silent and when do you play? That sort of thing. There is, in good Japanese tradition, a lot of silence on this release, and only short blocks of sound, or rather noise that is. Two extreme opposites that sometime make sense, a little bit. If you don't pay enough attention, than you are completely lost in this. Lots of silence, occasional loud noise: two things to drive the unaware listener up the wall. (FdW)

SYMBIOSIS (CDR by Zimogen/12rec)
To be really honest then: when I first played this release, I was caught up in other things to do. That happens. One has to do various things and music can/should fit various occasions, such as close listening, vacuum cleaning or reading. So I wasn't paying too close of attention to this release, but after a while I looked up and thought, 'which band made this nice CD', and when I picked up the cover, I realized this was a compilation. Ouch. Zymogen is an Italian net label, who present with Symbiosis a compilation of their bands. Twelve tracks by twelve artists, and none of which I heard before, except Marsen Jules. Although the label describes it as a 'range of electronic music, from experimental to acoustic, from glitchy structured rhythm to field recording', this is all quite close related to eachother. The differences are small between this lot, which is a drag if you think of it as a compilation, but it makes on the other hand also quite a coherent album. Most of the pieces are warm, glitchy ambient pieces, with sometimes field recordings, sometimes guitar, piano or xylophone, and make a great late night listening affair. Plus it comes with a great, neatly printed cover. (FdW)

The name Tim Coster has popped up before in these virtual pages. He is from those islands down under that are so isolated that if they want to hear experimental music, it's easier to make it themselves than buying import records. So everyone seems to be making music down there. A lot of people from New Zealand play in bands, but there is also a bunch of people who create music through laptops, such as Richard Francis, Mark Sadgrove and Tim Coster. 'Star Mill' is one, thirty-seven minute, piece (in what I believe to be three parts) of music that starts out with some rain like sounds, and from there on things grow with great intensity, building, adding, building, adding. Layer upon layer, until a thick and heavy thunder cloud arises out of which sparks and thunder are discharged. Heavy duty drone music at work. To quite an extent in the field of digital processing, this one, and also more topheavy than some of the other drone workers. Which sets Coster quite nicely apart from the rest of the lot, which is great. (FdW) Address:

Not much information came with this release, which can be found on myspace. ESE stands for Entheogenic Sound Explorers from Milan, Italy and has two core players, Piero Marchesi & Stefano Contini. Their instruments are listed on the cover and includes a whole bunch of synthesizers and drumcomputers. They came together in 1999 in a mutual love for ethnological and ethnobotanical studies. They describe their music as ambient, dub and electronics. Ese did their own field recordings, mainly in Mexico. Things start out in a nice way, bringing back the memories of The Orb, with a nice ambient dub piece. When Ese bring in voices things are quite nice, and they set themselves apart from the usual ambient music around, but it's not something that always happens. On other occasions they are just another good (let's not forget that) ambient band with enough sense of rhythm to prevent the listener from falling asleep. Good, but nothing new. Actually come to think of it, also the pieces which sound like The Orb aren't too new either, but like said, the music sounds well produced and is mostly both entertaining and relaxing. (FdW) Address:

KASPER VAN HOEK - A/B (3"CDR by Heilskabaal Records)
This release comes in two forms: fifteen copies on a 3" CDR and one copy on a 10" - if this isn't art, what is? Kasper van Hoek loves his instruments to be originating from the thrift store - old turntables, old cassette players, reel to reel machines and old vinyl and tapes. The first piece deals with the sound of two skipping turntables with nails as needles. He asks us to guess what's playing. Could be anything, as far as I'm concerned. Boyd Rice's Non springs to mind. Crude, minimal sounds with a great sense of looping, obviously I'd say with the turntable being the instrument. The second piece (might that be 'B'?) is a reworking of a live piece from early 2006, and it's a much more interesting piece of electronics and objects. Things hiss, sizzle, crack in an interesting, intense way, with keeps the tension in this piece alive. It will be part of a larger release by Van Hoek, and rightly so, I think. (FdW)

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