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Vital Weekly 592

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What happens if you combine the traditional rock format with 'homegrown' computer software? That is the question asked by Slow Six from the USA (not specified which part) and they explore that in three lengthy pieces. Not that they all play together: the first piece is for violin, electric guitar, rhodes and computer, the second for violin, rhodes and computer and only in the third there is a violin, viola, cello, two electric guitars, rhodes and computer. No drums. Since the computer software might be 'homegrown' it's also difficult to say what it does, because going by the music, it's very hard to tell. From the outside, the listener, it adds textures to the music rather than adds a whole new instrument, or extensive processing of the band. But according to the liner notes and press text it should be the latter. In that sense it's much more a 'traditional' working of the sound effects than the computer. A bit like the good ol' reverb and delay, except they are used here rather smoothly. It is a nice release, melodic, atmospheric, slow, Arvo Part like, ambient, desert like. Anything but really new or innovative, with or without computer processing. Great sad music. (FdW)

Alejandra (Salinas) and Aeron (Bergman) debuted in the mid 1990s with a unique combination of Spanish folklore and traditional tales and electro-acoustic/environmental recordings. 'Billowy Mass' consists of 'Campanas' (a reworking of their sound installation from 2001, the first 6 tracks) and 'Billowy Mass' (another installation dating from 2005, the final 2 tracks). Even though there is a track index on this CD, the music sounds like it's one comprehensive composition. Campanas features Spanish spoken word fragments, the sound of bells and snippets of (environmental?) sound, based - like other Alejandra and Aeron works - on Spanish folklore. In ancient times bells often were the only form of communication between people and villages and were used to ward off evil spirits and to warn for heavy storms. Billowy Mass continues this theme as it was recorded during the typhoon season in Taiwan. Even thought they were recorded 4 years apart, the two installations go well together. The Campanas tracks are slightly more subdued compared to Billowy Mass. Combined they make up this rather short (34 minute) CD, which creates a wonderful, often mesmerizing, almost slow-motion ambiance like you're actually in the sound, rather than listening to the sound. A major achievement for Alejandra and Aeron, who, with this release, have made one of their best-ever CDs. (Freek Kinkelaar) Address:

IMCA - IMCA (Absurd #62, CD)
I have to admit that I have a love-hate relation with this album. I love the way this album was made. It represents a somewhat bygone musical age, a time with cassettes and without e-mail, when things worked perhaps slower, but perhaps also more intensely. The full story of how the IMCA project (International Musique Concrete Ensemble) came together is told in detail in the CD booklet. In short, in 1990 Frans de Waard started a mail collaboration with John Hudak and Jos Smolders for a cassette on Midas Music, and later a second one with Guido Huebner (of Das Synthetisches Mischgewebe), Ios Smolders and Isabelle Chemin, which was the LP released by Korm Plastics. The basic soundmaterial (created by De Waard) was mailed to the first recipient who would rework the material and mail it to the next recipient etcetera. Thus a network chain was born. The results were released on the original IMCA album, which came on glorious white vinyl and contained an explanatory booklet. The vinyl edition consisted of 98 copies; 77 of these were for the public, 21 for the makers, resulting in the fact that many people knew about it, but only a few actually heard the music. I remember I was supposed to help gluing the covers, but I can't remember if I did in the end. I was given a free copy, so perhaps I did. I love the way this re-release is presented; an old tattered cover of the LP was used for this CD, which gives it a nice archival touch. The booklet is well-designed (by Meeuw), contains some of the original notes and explains the recording process in detail. But now to the music: IMCA is not easy listening, it is in fact a very demanding, electro-acoustic record with extreme dynamics. These dynamics were a bit lost on the original pressing on vinyl, but due to Jos Smolder's remastering these are back in place, which means you'll get to hear the IMCA ensemble as it was meant to be heard. The opening track of the CD still gives me a headache: high pitched feedback shrieks close to the level of irritation. It's hard to listen to this without turning the volume down. Luckily the electro-acoustic/musique concret of IMCA becomes more listenable after the challenging intro. The often dry sounds (dry as in untreated") are combined with long silences, with, at times, sudden blasts of concrete noise. Most of the used sounds seem to have their origin in noise (musique concret) rather than a musical source. Despite the many hands at the wheel of this album, the results are strangely coherent, which is a complement to those involved. In total 10 tracks are indexed, even though it's hard to tell where one ends and the other one begins. IMCA is probably best enjoyed in one long listening session in the right frame of mind. The final 2 tracks, which make up for the final 30 minutes of this CD, feature side A and B from the Midas cassette version with contributions from John Hudak. Here the sound is more traditional industrial if you like, with rhythms and a bit of a Nurse With Wound touch. Not bad at all. This is an important archive release of an album made by adventurous musicians who actually live up to their name. Like back in 1991, I'm not sure if it's musically a classic, but I am very happy to have this in my collection. (Freek Kinkelaar)

It has been quiet as far as reviews are concerned by Justin Bennett, it seems as he moved his activities towards the combination of visual arts and music more and more and left the area of releasing music. This new CD will be given away for free, but you'd have to travel to Istanbul and get it, as it is part of the 10th Istanbul Biennial exhibition. Bennett is a man who loves to record the environment, to capture the mood of a city, with a strong love for the arabic one, having already been in Tanger and Beirut. In Istanbul there is a lively social climate, people of the street, talking selling, cars but also there are pipes, tunnels and air-shafts. And wells. Bennett made a whole bunch of recordings inside wells and capture the outside world. A natural transformation of sound. If you have never been to Istanbul, like me, than one can get a clear picture of the city. The business of everyday, it's almost there to smell it. Crafted together, going places ('Engine Room', 'The Well', 'Tünel'), this is perhaps a personal journey for Bennett, but surely one we can enjoy very well. (FdW)

GINTAS K - 13 TRACKS (CD by Percepts)
After some MP3 and CDR releases, this is the second release on a CD by Lithuanian Gintas K, a work he produced for the Transmediale 2007 exhibition. I am not sure if the pieces are linked together or that they should be seen as standing by themselves. Gintas K is a man behind the laptop screen, where the blocks of sound are neatly organized. Rhythmical music but not to dance to. Head nod music. Your head moves along the rhythm, but not your entire sweaty body on the floor. Some of the more austere pieces around here, remind me of the older Alva Noto such as in 'Ka As Zinau', but in general Gintas K is less organized and less conceptual than the master himself. Which is actually nice, since the thirteen tracks are a pretty varied bunch of music. Always based on rhythm, but at times with a bit more synthesizer/sine wave sounds, different kinds of sounds making the rhythm, this is not always a surprising new look on what was once called clicks 'n cuts, but which stands fully in that tradition, but nice produced with a certain fresh look with some more anarchistic approach. (FdW) Address:

SON OF EARTH - PET (LP by Apostasy)
Despite their seven years of existence, and a number of cassettes, CDR, lathe cuts and one split LP, they now release their first real LP. Son Of Earth is a trio of Aaron Rosenblum, Matt Krefting an John Shaw, who all have a long standing career in free, improvised and noise music. In Son Of Earth they all play guitar in the first place, but also other instruments, such as children's toys, radios, scraps of metal, cheap keyboards. Four lengthy pieces at work here of subtle electronics, drones and tinkling guitars, all of which are fed through a wide array of sound effects. Highly atmospheric drone music, but with a nice sense of lo-fi around it, and with a lot of buried tension. A sort of creeping, beneath the earth of monster coming slowly towards you. A great album, that reminded me of some of the New Zealand stuff, even when Son Of Earth is much more subtle, or some of the albums released by Kraak years ago, such as Toss. This is the US noise that I really like, but I wonder if it's ever going to be as big as the other US noise, sadly enough. (FdW) Address:

AMORPH - ETATS D'ESPRIT (CDR by Boltfish Recordings)
ENV(ITRE) - OKAY (CDR by Boltfish Recordings)
On Boltfish another brand of new names. Sometimes I wonder if they are all real, or just one person with a split personality disorder. Amorph doesn't sound amorph, but rather structured. Twelve tracks of lush easy techno based music, uplifting rhythms which do not always engage to dance, but which however are always an integral part of the songs and a warm bed of synthesizer sounds. Great music to work to, but if you zoom in on the pieces you will see that the differences between the pieces is really small and that is a bit of a problem I think. Music that is here to entertain the listener, rather than that it demands a lot of attention. Nice though.
ENV(itre) is perhaps more of the same, with marginal differences. Eleven tracks, somewhat more forceable beats and more cosmic synthesizer lines. Great music to work to, but if you zoom in on the pieces you will see that the differences between the pieces is really small and that is a bit of a problem I think. Music that is here to entertain the listener, rather than that it demands a lot of attention. Nice though. Both of them. Address:

Not much information here on Psychedelic Desert, which appears to be a trio of Cuckoo on mixer, effects and bass, Ge Fushima on guitar and Pure H on additional processing. They seem to be from Japan. The thing here at hand is a live recording, made in Kobe, Japan. Two long, long long pieces of drone music. Slowly swelling and decaying notes, in the higher region, almost organ music like. Played solemnly and with care. Hard to think this is live music and keeps me wondering about the venue would be like, in my imagination I am seeing a Buddhist temple. Rather than giving this a thorough listening session, one should, at least that's what I think, lie back and let this wash all over you. Like an endless stream of sound. The second piece is perhaps a bit too much in the field of effects, but the first more austere piece is truly beautiful. Very nice work. (FdW) Address:

Hot on the heels on the recent releases on Hello Squarerecordings, here is something new by them. Silhouettes is a series of four discs with each two artists, face to face, with about twelve minutes of music. None of the first four names did ring a bell, but there are certainly stylistically similarities to be spotted around here. On the first release is M. Rösner, who released his work on 12x50, Room 40 and Apestaartje, and who is set to explore here the nature of cello like guitar playing, whereas in his second piece he plays around with feedback and sine waves. His final piece has sampled percussion which is quite loaded with tension. Hardwick comes from England and he plays sampled piano. Sampled not in an entirely digital way, but through those nice food pedals that guitarists use. In his first piece the piano is recognizable, but in the second it could be anything that swells to and from to make a nice drone piece.
On the second volume we first find Morning Stalker, which is Morgan McKellar, guitarist and vocalist of Underlapper, whom I don't know, but his piece here is a nice layered piece of sampled guitar sounds, bouncing around with a lot of delay pedals. As such there isn't much difference with Greg Thaw, also known as The Ghost Of 29 Megacycles. He's from Polaroid Ghost and Jasmine Loop Control. His piece is very similar: tinkling guitars, loops, a bit of feedback and nicely melodic, pleasant ambient music.
On the first the differences work quite well, whereas the similarities on the second one make a pretty coherent release. (FdW)

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