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Vital Weekly 595

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PURE H - SIGNIA (CD by Pharmafabrik)
Present compilation released by Slovenian label Pharmafabrik, is an example on how different one certain track might sound depending on the artistic approach. "Signia" was the opening track on the "Anadonia"-album by Slovenian sound artist Pure H. Pure H has chosen a number of interesting artists to remix the "Signia"-track. And despite its tribute-concept the album is a quite varied sound experience. The link between the main-part of the ten remixes is some heavy bass-lines, guitar-based drones and ultraslow heavy beats. Otherwise the "Signia"-track has been processed, broken and manipulated into expressive styles spanning from doomy industrial, black ambient, noise to tranquilizing ambience. Great moments come from artists such as P.C.M. delivering a dark-toned breakbeat-version subtitled "Blue waters turn black". Also the interesting Taiwan-based artist MoShang impresses with his happy downbeat chill-out-track. The noisy beast from legendary Japanese Noise-artist KK Null makes sure that the listener will not leave the 77 minutes tribute without ear pain, an awesome ambient noise-track and a great way of closing this very interesting compilation. (Niels Mark)

If there was a serious question mark corner in Vital Weekly, then the CD by Brian Harnetty would be taken poll position there. Harnetty is a college professor in Kenyon. The music he presents here uses sounds from The Berea College (Kentucky) Sound Archives which 'hold non commercial recordings documenting more than 75 years of Appalachian history and culture'. Harnetty takes these audio documents consisting mainly of people talking and singing and may or not set music to that. May, as sometimes I think he does when he adds piano or guitar or layers them, adds some echo, and sometimes it seems as pure and clean as possible. This leads to a fascinating audio document which holds somewhere in between a radioplay, a documentary, a work of music and a field recording. I couldn't help thinking of the work of Dominique Petitgand. The way the voices are mixed with sparse music, the intimacy of it all, it all sounded like a US version of Petitgand. Very odd but great CD. (FdW)

Perhaps you think along similar lines as I do: is ICR a drone label? It seems so from the outside, perhaps, with works by Colin Potter, Paul Bradley and certain Nurse With Wound releases. But these three new releases may proof me either wrong, or show the extended ICR concept. To start in the most 'conventional' of the three is to start with Stimulus. They exist since 1995 and have had a bunch of releases, mainly on CDR but also on CD and vinyl through Beta-lactam Ring. It's been a while since I last heard anything from them, but these six untitled cuts are prototypes of ambient industrial drone music. Using a variety of instruments, such as cello, accordion, trombone, drums, cymbal, electric guitar, bass and organ in combination with loads of computers, effects and field recordings they craft together very late 80s industrial mood music. Scraping the strings, feeding the signals to all sorts of processors, creating a dense atmospheric sound landscape, they create a mighty fine work - if perhaps a bit unsurprising. Think old Illusion Of Safety, Maeror Tri, Beequeen or Noise Makers Fifes and you a pretty much in the right alley.
Phil Mouldycliff's career spans thirty years, even he's perhaps a bit known for some collaboration with Colin Potter and as a curator of 'Debris Field' (see Vital Weekly 532). Now he presents his first solo record, which is an affair that has two main roads. There are three tracks of him solo on the autoharp, keyboard, samplers and such like and three pieces which are a combination of real instruments and environmental sounds. The three strict solo pieces are close to the idea of drone music, but unlike Stimulus, much more silent and careful. I am not sure if Mouldycliff is also the performer on the other pieces presented here, especially on 'A Speculative Atlas (For David Mitchell)', which is a long piece for wind instruments, percussion and perhaps a bit of electronics. This is almost a serious modern classical piece, and it could have been 'piece for wind instrument and tapes' - this is altogether an entirely different thing than the other five pieces on this release, and marks a big change in the world of drone heads. This is a great CD, due to its variety in approaches, but still making a coherent sound of stillness and atmospherics.
If we take 'A Speculative Atlas (For David Mitchell)' as a starting point for the next release than we get Far Black Furlong. They are a band of oboist Mark Baigent, dulcimer player John Letcher, flautist Amanda Votta, guitarist Ian Tengwall, Andy Cotterill on electronics, along with composer Richard Moult and poet Bryony Lees. Outside in Clun Forest - and I mean outside - they performed much of this work, thus adding the outside world as part of the music. The six pieces, I am told, describes 'tides from the summer breeze through barley, to the shimmering stretch of a vast ocean extending to the shifting birth pages of stars'. It seems to me that the music is largely improvised but in a quiet and peaceful manner. Perhaps a little less modern classical than the Mouldycliff piece, although they get close. And in a good ICR (and Die Stadt) mode there is a limited CDR of music from the CD that is remix/reworked by Cotterill. Perhaps because he doesn't seem to be very present on the CD (or the electronics are save for some delay that is used), he gets his way in a full out treatment of the material, adding spooky electronics to the material, or perhaps feeding the material through electronics. Long sustaining sounds that sound a bit creepy like a wait for something veil and nasty to happen, which of course (spoiler coming up) doesn't happen. However the drone like character of this piece brings us back to the start of this review. ICR does drone music of an outstanding kind, but it's not at all exclusively to that, and offer various fresh views on the subject at hand. (FdW)

It might be no surprise or something new that I confess to like popmusic, especially new wave of the eighties. So when I played the 'Essential Shit' by Ukranian band Ivan Samshit, and read about their history, I was delighted. Between 1987 and 1997 they recorded '12 or even more' albums, but they were not all released. This CD are the best tracks from the albums that weren't released. Ivan Samshit play popmusic with a strong new wave edge and a bit of electro-pop influence. Especially here they sound particularly nice, as a combination of Depeche Mode's lighter side and Gary Numan's earlier edges. But it's not easy to like this over my old heroes. Partly because I heard so many of this kind of electro-pop music, and partly because of the language barrier. I assume they sign in Ukranian, which is hardly, at least for me, a sing-along language, whereas the true power of 'Everything Counts' lies in that instant recognizable quality. Maybe if I play this on repeat it will help, and there lies the last problem: in 1985 I could spend one week with one new record that I just purchased after much consideration (and much listening in the record store), a situation that is now completely and totally changed. Let's put it on the ipod for a while.
Edward Sol has already released a bunch of works on Quasipop, and it's surely something that is not alike the previous release by Ivan Samshit; Quasipop is a wide term. Edward uses an electric guitar and pedals, turntable, minidisc, contact microphone, objects, analogue devices and a computer. His work is partly rooted in musique concrete and partly in lo-fi drone music. It started out with a low humming sequencer affair in the first piece that is mildly industrial music. I am afraid I am less positive about the other three tracks. They seem to be put together in a rather haphazard manner, through methods of improvisation and appear to have no head or tail. The typical CDR project me thinks.
Perhaps Quasipop assume that a cassette player is no longer part of the Vital HQ, but it still is, albeit unconnected to the amplifier. They send a CDR version of a cassette only release by Lasse Marhaug and Anla Courtis. To release it in that format is a brave thing to do, I think. They did some recording together in 1998, which was shelved until now. Together with two new solo pieces it comes in the old form of a cassette. The interesting thing about this is that its not the full blown noise attack, but rather a low volume drone affair. A heavy long sustaining wall of sound, from sources unknown, work on the brain. I was wondering if they had the cassette format in mind when they were recording this. I am listening to the CDR, but I can imagine that the sound will be a bit muffled when played on a cassette and that the hiss will create an additional texture of sound. Quite a pleasing work of ambient industrial music. (FdW)

'Objects left behind in the sea' is the translation of the title, and that evokes images here, of driftwood, sunken ships, beaches with found objects and such like. However it's not that Nicolas Bernier and Simon Trottier stood by the beach to tape all of this. Bernier plays laptop and is known from his work on No Type and Ekumen and Trottier is a guitarist from 'white noise ensemble' and together they created the four songs on this album, using computers, field recordings (no sea insight however) and guitars. This is not an unusual combination these days, even when Trottier likes folk melodies. Things tinkle nicely away here on the acoustic guitar while they are put to a hot bed of electro-acoustic sounds. The latter takes care of making things not too soft, or downright ambient, but in stead there is some urgency about these pieces which makes them much more experimental than would expect. Not really songs, still soundscapes, but a lot more musical than pure field recordings. Quite a nice release, defying categories and make four strong points themselves. (FdW)

EMITER.ARSZYN.GADOMSKI - 29/30.11.06 (CDR by Sqrt Label)
The trio of Tomasz Gadomski on percussion, Marcin Dymiter on guitar and Krzystof Topolski go by the name Emiter.Arszyn.Gadomski and hail from Poland. In 2006 they played for two days in St.John Church in Gdansk, using both the acoustics of the church as well as allowing sounds from the workers who were renovating the church at the time. Not mixed says the cover. Dive deep into the world of improvised music here. I have no clue about the background of these players, but as far as I can judge by these recordings they are accomplished players/improvisers. Elsewhere in this issue I mutter about improvisers not listening to eachother, but nothing so here. These three musicians are highly skilled for the task at hand. They do listen to eachother, respond when necessary, set a new line when needed and shut up when it's time to do so. The natural reverb of the church adds an interesting sonic depth to this record that works really well. A strong and varied disc of improvised music of the highest quality. (FdW)

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