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Vital Weekly 596

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MOVE D - TONSPUREN 1-10 (CD by Bine Music)
It seems like yesterday that we reviewed the '10/11 Live At Johanneskirche' by Move D, a.k.a. David Moufang. But it was in Vital Weekly 580... Bine Music unearths another Moufang work from the archive here: a recording of Move D at the second Sonic Arts festival in Erlangen, early 2003, where the guiding theme was 'Sound and Reality'. Moufang uses field recordings, ten different ones, which he sets to music, using his laptop and real instruments, such guitar, pedal steel and slit drum. The field recordings bit is of course about 'reality', and Moufang knows his rain and train sounds, which he sets to his music. And that didn't change much: deep space synthesizers, jazzy keyboard lines, a jumpy rhythm and an acid style bass line. As such there is not much difference between this release and the previous one on Bine Music by him, save of course for the addition of field recordings. It's nice flowing and floating ambient music, armchair techno, traveling music for ipods (be sure to use a good high resolution convertor) and it's actually quite alright. (FdW) Address:

My first encounter with Keith Kenniff's project Goldmund, whose 'Two Point Discrimination' is his third release. His music fits the 2007 tradition of playing the piano. In a twist of difference he just uses a piano and no electronics, but he does something interesting. In stead of having a microphone pick up his playing, he places various microphones at various points close the piano: near the hammers, the strings and the pedals, as well as probably an overall microphone. It adds a rather unusual texture to the recordings. Kenniff mixes his pieces in various way, sometimes allowing one microphone, then another one. Eleven short pieces (total time is about twenty four minutes) of this kind of pieces, which aren't exactly Erik Satie or Claude Debussy, but more joyous and uptempo, yet also quite atmospherical. Minimal music influences with arpeggio's and also Feldman like with loosely played tunes. Quite a nice release indeed, an easily one of the better piano works of this year.
Hasunuma self-titled debut was reviewed in Vital Weekly 539 and he too has discovered the piano, or perhaps he just returns to it. Hasunuma takes the piano way further in the digital terrain, more than Goldmund, but also more than many others who came to Vital Weekly with their 86 keys. Hasunuma takes the piano apart, builds it up, twists it around, and change it, and also adds guitar and vocals. Glitch music of the highest order, and much of what I had to say on his first release, counts here too, perhaps not so much influenced by Mathieu anymore, but surely a lot of music on Spekk, Noble or a band like Flim. Music from an already long tradition, but surely Hasunuma is one of the better players in the field. It's not too soft, ambient, but rather angular and at times even unsettling. Fennesz and The Books are also obvious points of reference. Quite a complete work this one. (FdW)

One of the things I like about Marcus Schmickler is his sheer variety in music styles. Wether it's rock with Pluramon, serious composing for a choir, improvisation or pure electronic works, he can do all seemingly without too much trouble. The luck of being classical trained probably. This new CD is actually a DVD: there is a portion that can be played on any audio CD player and on the DVD part the same piece for multi-channel set-up. That I don't have, so I have to do with the stereo version. Apparently it's his first electronic work since 1998, when he released 'Sator Rotas', and 'Altars Of Science' is a serious computer music work. Schmickler takes the form of 'old' serious electronic music, but then no longer analogue synthesizers or oscillators, but computerized sounds. Things pop up, take shape, disappear. Most of the times in a somewhat loud and noise based territory. We should not forget that Schmickler is also a member of Mimeo, so a bit of noise is well-spend on him. Sometimes buzzing like insects, but usually totally abstract. A strong work I think, taking this kind of music away from the acousmatic counterparts that is part of the serious work, and as such a work that truly stands out from the rest. Powerfull, at times even noise like, but moving about without staying in static territory. An example of how these things should sound for noise heads, serious composers and improvisers. Listen and learn. (FdW)

Two releases from the world of drones, but with two different outcomes. Pocahaunted and Robedoor are both bands from Los Angeles, who share both a split and collaboration together. Robedoor has four pieces, Pocahaunted three and then there is a collaboration between both bands. The drones applied by these two bands are best be classified as space rock. There is a guitar that is in distortion mode, crying in the background, and on top there is a jamming free guitar, strumming away nicely and vocals that bring a long howl, certainly in the case of Pocahaunted. Robedoor stays a bit more close to the idea of drone music, with sustained sounds in long and spacious curves that move about in a slow manner. Drone rock or rock drone which ever side of the medal you like to approach this from that has a solid basis in New Zealand, but apparently it can be played elsewhere too. Nice, but not exactly new.
The other release is announced as 'the best that the Dutch underground has to offer'. Well, ok. Of course the name Rutger Zuydervelt, also known as Machinefabriek, is known here of course (or otherwise you didn't read it very well in the last two years). Mariska Baars is someone with whom he has collaborated in the past already, and by herself she works as Soccer Committee, where she is, me think, like Oren Ambarchi with vocals. Wouter van Veldhoven is the unknown one, but I saw a concert by him a while ago which was great: tape loops, modular synth and a music box, playing careful glitchy music. They all know eachother quite well, and on July 15th of this year they recorded 'Zeeg' together in a live setting. Vocals aren't present, or at least we don't know about it. This too is drone music, but of all totally different kind. More spacious, but also more open, with the tinkling of guitars, that seem to float weightless in space, careful crackles courtesy of Van Veldhoven, and everything else that they use is looped around, changes shape and volume, and meanders about in a slow and peaceful manner. Nothing heavy weight, such as the Pocahaunted/Robedoor discs, but more light of hearth and tone. Hard to believe that this is 'just' a live recording, but let's believe they are not lying to us. A highly successful collaboration this one, and bringing the comet career of Zuydervelt a step further. (FdW)

JULIA KENT - DELAY (CD by Important Records)
Probably best known for her cello playing with Anthony and the Johnsons and Angels of Light, as well as her membership of Apocalyptica, Canadian-born Julia Kent has finally released her first solo album. Delay was recorded between endless touring and traveling and it shows. Inspired by long waits at airports, Kent creates her private world in the midst of the usual chaos and disorientation. Consisting purely of multi-tracked cello and found sounds, the tracks on this album are like an oasis in that micro-cosmos called the airport, in a sense following Eno's concept of Music for Airports. Each track on this album is interspersed with short interludes of environmental sounds recorded at a specific airport (such as Idlewild, Malpensa and Schiphol), which gives the track its name. This concept works wonderfully well. Kent manages to give each airport its own atmosphere, ranging from hectic and chaotic to an almost pastoral calm. As a total, the mood of this album reminds me much of Daniel Figgis' brilliant 1994 CD Skipper. Delay is a great album in an already great music tradition of albums inspired by airports. I'll be traveling to Finland soon and I'm looking forward to play Delay as a peaceful musical haven in a chaotic world. Delay? You'd almost wish for one. (Freek Kinkelaar) Address:

NORTHERN - DRAWN (CD by Infraction Records)
These two new releases on Infraction Records show not only the label's love for ambient music, but in true minimalist action, there are subtle differences to be spotted, and even a degree in appreciation can be made. Pacione's work so far has been released on Elevator Bath (see a review of 'Sisyphus' in Vital Weekly 497) and here comes on Infraction Records. It seems to me that the guitar is a prime instrument for Pacione and that there is a little bit of field recordings involved, but a massive amount of sound effects. Slowly moving, this is heartland drone music. Peaceful, moving, vast landscape, all the cliché's from the music come to mind, but it's a great album. More Stars Of The Lid/Ultrasound than Mirror or Ora, I think, but these are subtle differences. Nothing new under the still beautiful sun, this one.
Speaking about differences, there are as said differences between Pacione and Northern, the collaboration of two brother, Davin and Kevin Chong from Canada. Their debut CD 'Drawn' may start very much along the lines of Pacione, the difference is in the slightest rhythmic particles that hoover about these recordings. Stretched out fields of sound, immense tapestries of clouds, fields of hay - that's the Pacione link, but below surface there is the ur-beat, the heart rhythm, the ticking of a clock that makes this very very vaguely connected to minimal techno (and I mean very very vaguely) of Chain Reaction at their very very most laidback sense. Like a simple delay ticking. 'Drawn' sounds perhaps more 12K than Infraction, but then Infraction didn't exactly settle for one specific form of ambient music, and that's why it's such an interesting label and these two releases proof their fine taste in that music. Both aren't 'new', 'hot' but great subtle, atmospheric music releases. (FdW)

Perhaps the name Robert Rich is not very often in Vital Weekly, but you may recognize the name as one of the masters of ambient music. Markus Reuter by comparison is perhaps a less easy to place name, but he is a member of Centrozoon, a band whose music I never liked. Rich and Reuter spent a week together to record this album, which apparently dwells more on acoustic and electro-acoustic instruments, such as lap steel, touch guitar, piano, acoustic guitar and flutes than synthesizers. The press text rambles about the 'instant hookiness' of the pieces, but I am pretty sure they mean a wholly different kind of hookiness than I do. These tunes are not catchy poptunes, but in some cases nice flowing ambient pieces and in some cases tedious psychedelic music. It works best in the same what more abstract pieces, and less in those pieces which emphasize e-bow guitars. It may seem to be recorded with acoustic and electro-acoustic instruments, but there is a sturdy amount of sound processing going on here. Perhaps even a bit too much at times. Throughout it's a pleasant late evening album of shorter ambient works that provides a nice, melodic background music while sipping a glass of wine. Nice but hardly surprising. (FdW)

Late 2005 I attended a very nice evening at Extrapool. Not the usual laptop posse, or improvisers, but three more or less conceptual performances about music. Goodiepal's whistling act, Toktek playing 'canvas' (with attached oscillators, which were connected by cables and looked like painting) and Jan van den Dobbelsteen who presented the project 'Esrever Tnatsni' (read as 'Instant Reverse') in which he recut 93 7"s, which he played on a turntable which played backwards and from inside outwards. A strange but nice evening of three different ways of working with sound, out of the ordinary. Van den Dobbelsteen presents his work here on this record (packed in a beautiful gatefold sleeve): a random selection of these 7"s. It's an interesting concept, but one could wonder if a whole LP is necessary to document it. Especially side one sounds like reversed music, and nothing much else. In that sense the second side is more musical interesting. Here things sound reversed too, but they also sound interesting, more like a radioplay with elements of sound collage. Rain, instruments, hiss: almost in a narrative way. That is quite nice. Maybe one can wonder if a concept should be heard or even documented, but especially the second side proofs me wrong. (FdW)

Perhaps the press text says it all: "The audio content, however, is identical to the CD edition, so no one should feel compelled to purchase this record unless they love vinyl as much as we do!". I like vinyl, but overlooking my castle, I realize I don't have enough space for vinyl, so when it comes to preferring one or the other, I opt for the CD version. But both the CD version and the double 10" version look great. The stone soap box versus the handmade paper ("deluxe silkscreened gatefold folder mae of recycled sugarcane fiber, with a full color poster, and each record is stored in its own hand-made marigold flower petal-infused, plastic lines sleeve" mind you). As for the music, not different than before, we return to Vital Weekly 529, when Freek Kinkelaar wrote (wrongly credited to me actually): "Alchemical Playschool is an altogether different beast. It comes packed in a beautiful trident-carved soapstone box that weighs a ton. Here the Dots-core of Edward Kaspel and Phil Knight rework environmental sound-material recorded in India (by Charles Powne of Soleilmoon records, the original recordings are available on CD as Indian Soundscapes). In doing so the Dots create a beautiful dreamscape. The four long tracks (parts one to four) evoke scenes of the East with street sounds, crowd noises, voices and field recordings drifting in and out. At times the results are pastoral and on other occasions downright hectic - just as you'd imagine India to sound like. Part Four, with its beautiful voice sample and washes of sound, forms the highlight of this fascinating album. Alchemical Playschool is welcome proof that the Dots are still willing and able to create exiting experimental music." Quite right there. At 250 copies a certified pre-programmed collectors item. (FdW) Address:

A new label from Chicago is Peira. They seem to be focussing on improvised music, judging by their first two releases. Nice packaging (printed sleeves) to start with. From the five artists that play the music on these first two releases I just recognized the names of percussionist Tim Barnes and trumpeter Nate Wooley. Brian Labycz plays electronics and koto and Jason Roebke plays double bass. Labycz is an improviser with Vadim Sprikut as LSD and cuartor of the Myopic Improvised Music series. Roebke has played with Tigersmilk (which includes Rob Mazurek), Art Union Humanscape and has played with various jazz bands. On their collaborative CDR they play highly demanding improvised music which lasts for quite some time, and a certain tiredness leapt in here. There is perhaps only as much as a person can take. Great improvised music but a bit too much.
The other release, obviously called 'Trio' is by Barnes, Wooley and Jason Roebke. Like with the other this is a head dive deep into the world of improvised music. Right from the start we aren't left alone, but there is always sound to guide us. What seems to be acoustic rumbling at the start of loosely disjointed sounds, will gradually grow into something electric sounding. I have no idea how or what they are doing there to generate these sounds, but it surely sounds great. It expands the original sound, makes it richer, but also more chaotic and nervous. Both of these releases are in the same alley, of free improvisation, of loud onkyo, or soft noise (whichever suits you), but both are demanding releases. Put these on and play them, might not do them justices at all. Sit down and concentrate and a new world will open for you. (FdW)

In 2004 Olaf Hochherz was thrown out of the music university of Essen, Germany, but that very day he also met someone from Naiv Super, who offered a release of his music, even when it took three years to come to a release of only twenty-three minutes in length. He plays music on a laptop, using programs he built himself. It starts out in a rather noisy vein, with lots of crackles and static, but suddenly there is a female voice to be heard here, and things soften out. From then on until the end piece 'Celine' things are more interesting. Highly academic, even when Hochhertz didn't finish his school. Computermusic of software running amok, but with a lot of dynamics. The tides between loud and soft. I have no idea to what extent this was improvised or composed, but it surely sounds great. A bit like the recent Joe Gilmore CD on Cut. Quite an intelligent release, even when not entirely new as such. (FdW)

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