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Vital Weekly 597

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Another CD in the series 'the many sides of Antoine Berthiaume'. In 2003 Berthiaume debuted with 'Soshin' a cd of duets with Fred Frith and - just on time - with Derek Bailey. Followed by 'Leaves and Snows', a trio with Quentin SirJacq on piano and Norman Teale on electronics, showing again improvisation from another angle. With Michel Donato and Pierre Tanguay, Berthiaume released a jazz album: 'Ellen's Bar'. For his newest collaboration Bertiaume takes again another route, combining improvisation with soundscaping. He is joined now by MaryClare Brzytwa on flute and electronics, making use of electronic and sampled sounds. She is a new name for me. Brzytwa studied improvisation with Joelle Leandre, composition with Fred Frith, etc. She is member of the all female free improvisation outfit Slow Children. Berthiaume plays guitar and effects, in a way that is often difficult to trace the guitar in the soundscapes they paint. Together they produce an album of quiet electronic based improvisations. At times even very ambient, like in the track 'Punch'.
In a track like 'By the Name' they came close to the songformat. In the last track 'Alltron' Berthiaume plays in Bailey-like way, accompanied by environmental sounds coming from Brzytwa. In all the pieces the input of both is blended carefully and successfully into one whole of organic soundmanipulations. I would say this is a very interesting and engaging work that should interest those who are into crossovers between improvisation and soundmanipulation. (Dolf Mulder)

ARANIS - II (CD by Asmlljj)
Belgium has a rich tradition of chamber-music like rock (and related) ensembles: Présent, Univers Zero, Daniel Schell & Karo, Maximalist, Julverne, Olla Vogula, Louise Avenue, Jan Kuijken, DAAU, etc. We can add now a new and fascinating member to this family: Aranis. They are already around for a while, as they present their second cd. Within this family this acoustic combo belongs to the friendly department with Julverne a.o. Aranis is a sextet consisting of: Linde de Groof (violin), Liesbeth Lambrecht (violin), Marjolein Cools (accordion), Axelle Kennes (piano), Stijn Denys (guitar), Jana Arns (flute) and Joris Vanvinckenroye (double bass). The bassplayer is also responsible for all the compositions and arrangements, except the piece 'Trog' that was composed by Peter Verdonck. All of them are excellent players who did their studies on the conservatory of Antwerp. With verve and great enthusiasm they play the complex compositions, that are beautifully arranged. The playing is very together and coherent. They often play live I guess. The compositions are not earthshaking but put together very well. We hear folk and jazz influences and above all the ghost of Piazzola is everywhere, although they don't play tangos. Happily they keep themselves in most pieces far from boring post-minimal music which we hear often from these kind of ensembles. So it ends up as their own melting pot of romantic chamber music. They play a music that is melodic and harmonic, combined with the feel for rhythm and pulse coming tango music. So, absolutely no hypermodern classical music, but also no retro exercise. They know how to keep the balance, only on a few moments they come a little to close to cliché and kitsch. All in all, I must say I like this very maneuverable music with its surprising twists. But I think the composer could do more experimental things, and I think he should. (Dolf Mulder)

Two releases from the obscure Duration label. I could not trace much information on these musicians, but it seems we are in contact here with improvisors from Richmond.
On both CDs Marty Mccavitt plays harsh and heavy electronics. There is no information on the equipment he uses. But from what we hear coming from his electronics, it is evident that he likes old-style, analogue sounding electronics. Also his improvisations show that he has his very own esthetic if it comes how to play electronics and built musical structures. You make like it or not, but he has clear voice and approach. I didn't like it immediately, I must admit. But there is an sympathetic air of 'primitivism' in his his style. Is it Andrew d'Angelo who plays saxes on 'Torn between 2 Horses', on 'First Flash of the Day' it is Darius Jones who plays sax. So we have here two cds with the same instrumentation, which makes it interesting to compare them. The cd by Birds in the Meadow is the most varied and interesting one, as it shows more of Mccavitts electronic capabilities, and he is not so afraid of silence and quiet intervals here. Of both saxplayers Darius Jones plays in the most jazzy way, even lyrical and very human. This contrasts with the electronic world of Mccavitt, although it must be said that Mccavitt respects Jones in all ways. D'Angelo plays in more abstract way, and also rough. Here sax and electronics are completing each other in noisy improvisations. On both cds we hear unusual improvisations, specially because of the strange electronics of Mccavitt. And also successful improvisations as the musicians do meet and communicate. (Dolf Mulder) Address:

The C3R label more and more focusses on improvised and semi-classical music and these two releases proof that. First of all there is the all important improvised music innovator Axel Dörner, whose trumpet playing occasionally has nothing to do with a trumpet. Here he teams up with Diego Chamy, an Argentinian percussion player, who wrote a text, which he recites. I *think* this is in the beginning of the CD, since there is a voice there. Good to see it in print too on the cover as it would be hard to understand. The majority of the disc however is filled with Dörner playing his trumpet, and this time in a somewhat more accessible and recognizable vein than his recent work and Chamy playing with objects on his bass drum. Soft and subtle as was to expect, but it has some great music and unexpected sounds - sounds which are hard to trace back to the origins of either instrument. Maybe also Dörner plays his instrument with objects, which add a whole new layer to the music. One piece, forty five minutes of sheer silence, sheer noise and sheer delight.
I have good memories about 'Speaker Swinging' by Gordon Monahan. Three swingers are swinging loudspeakers above their heads. From these speakers emerge sine waves which are played from the mixing board. Thus a doppler like effect is created, which increases and decreases when the swinging goes faster or slower. I once this in performance, and was thrilled. The flying and buzzing sound was great to hear. When I bought the record, now released here on CD, I thought it was good but not as great as the performance itself. It's still a great piece, captured with microphones of course, of moving drones and the rotating sound is in tact. It would be great to see this as a 5.1 surround sound release. The b-side (I always thought of that, but it's in fact first on the CD version) is 'Piano Mechanics', which is a conceptual piece about the piano. I read the liner notes, tried downloading the score, but I am not sure how it works. It's a piece that works well on CD. The hammering on the strings are largely mechanical and work less in the area of overtones, but are largely minimal. Especially 'Solitary Waves 2' is a powerful piece in that respect. Minimal music without the interference of electronics, but sounding truly powerful. Great to see on CD. (FdW)

JON MUELLER - METALS (CD by Table Of The Elements)
So far we mostly came across the name Jon Mueller as part of an improvising group, a real group, but hardly by himself. Not very strange, since Mueller is well respected improviser on the drums. His last solo CD, 'What's Lost Is Something Important. What's Found Is Something Not Revealed' was reviewed in Vital Weekly 457. Yet it's far away from his new solo effort 'Metals'. The previous sounded like an exploration into the world of electro-acoustic objects, which happened to be anything remotely related to the drumkit. Here on 'Metals' the drumkit is the central piece, and not, as the title may suggest the sound of metal. The metal here is heavy metal, the musical genre, to which this owes more than to improvised music. The music is loud, but has lots of detail. Sometimes it dies out in a long sustain, but then Mueller takes control and bangs like hell. Heavy metal? Yeah sure, stripped down to the drums that is. Minimal music it is also. The bangs take on for some time until the overtones start ringing around - this is after all on Table Of The Elements. It's that, rather than improvised music. This seems to me to be more planned, composed if you will, than improvised. A powerful statement, perhaps inspired by a youth in heavy metal, and certainly something different. A very fine solo release. (FdW)

MAWJA - LIVE ONE (CD by Chloe)
In the world of improvised music, the action is more important than the product, but there are a lot of products to document the action. In Vital Weekly Dolf Mulder already discussed the first release by Mawja, which contained recordings from 2005 and here is the second, also with recordings from that intense week in 2005. Mawja is Michael Bullock (contrabass, feedback), Mazen Kerbaj (trumpet) and Vic Rawlings (cello, surface electronics) and started life when Kerbaj went to the USA for the first time and played improvised music. During a week these three played together, of which the first release was a studio representation of their work, while this is has two live pieces from the same week and is much along the same lines (in this world there is actually not really a distinction between studio and live recordings, as it's usually recorded in one go): an exploration of sound possibilities of either instrument, in combination with objects, such as in Kerbaj's case or electronics, in the case of his american partners. Things buzz, beep, collide, exhale, inhale, bump and distract: such is the world of improvised music in the twenty-first century. The instrument as anything but the instrument it is usually used. Played with objects, new techniques, almost electro-acoustic in approach. Three accomplished players, who know what they do and when they shouldn't be doing anything at all. Quite nice this one. (FdW)

FATAGAGA - THE BIG SLEEP (CDR by Satori Hype Records)
ELFISH ECHO - BAUME UND STRAUCHER (CDR by Drittland Schallscheiben)
AUDIOTROP (CD compilation by Audiotrop)
My German is sadly not good enough to say what the aim of Audiotrop(olis) is, but it seems a bundle of musicians and labels. From each part we received something. First there is Satori Hype Records, who announce themselves as "Take-away for drones, maximal electronics & solid crooning" and Fatagaga is one of the bands. Behind this is one Stefan Zöllner, who has been playing music ever since 1977 in punk bands and later on working with electronics. His claim to fame is a CD on Amplexus under the guise of Laudanum. That may set the tone for 'The Big Sleep'. 'Laudanum' was recorded during sleepless nights, but either he has overcome his insomnia, or not at all, but 'The Big Sleep' is again filled with ambient with the big A. Deep synth washes, slow moves, drone like keyboards. Late night music to be played in an almost dark room, taking the listener away on the trip. The cover may suggest something harsher, but it's an illusion. This is very nice relaxing music. No surprise, but with great depths.
Who is behind Elfish Echo is a bit unclear, but his music moves along similar lines as Fatagaga, but it's less focussed on the ambient tag. It's atmospheric for sure, but his sounds are loosely associated together, and not through a large mass of synthesizer drones and such like. It seems to me sampled together, from various sources which are hard to tell where the stem from. The pieces are short, and add up to twenty-one in total. While atmospheric in approach, it has more experimental edges to it than Fatagaga, but it all stays on the friendly side. The best sequence at night is to first play this and then turn off the light a bit more and play Fatagaga.
Both bands also appear on 'Audiotrop', a compilation of all the labels involved, and Fatagaga has a totally different piece here, a sort of ambient rhythm minimalist piece, just like 8m2 Stereo. The music on this compilation is not restricted to ambient music, but also the more experimental music is not forgotten. Z'EV (a total surprise to see him here) has a nice subdued metal piece. More noise related outings come from CO.Caspar.OSP and Losthelm. Also included are Shades & Shapes and Fura Bliss. Quite a varied compilation, and perhaps a bit too much over the place, but it's also serves as a nice introduction to new names. (FdW)

THE HITMACHINE - IE OE AA (7" by Ole Records)
If you aim for the charts, why should your 7" have a b-side? It's not a question I raise, but in the 80s there was a dutch guy who said his 7" didn't need a b-side, since nobody ever plays a b-side. I am not sure if my local heroes The Hitmachine thought along similar lines when they released 'Ie Oe Aa', but they offer just one track here too. Probably not, since The Hitmachine, despite their name, is hardly a machine to produce hits in the charts. The fluctuating membership guarantees always a surprise. They play free rock, techno, schlagers and noise, and sometimes all of that at the same time. This side is a bit of sound poetry like, in the best dada tradition (shouting rather than singing), with some guitar strumming in the best solitary singer song writing tradition: not a single note too much. Quite a surprise, and then probably no surprise at all. Outsider music, outside any mainstream, hype or scene. Quite a daring move to release this in this way, but if you're an outsider: what else can you do. Strangest record of the week by any account. (FdW)

A title explaining it all: what more do you need than a recorder? Right, to be a musician, nothing much more really than a tape recorder. At least that's of course if you don't like a guitar and field recordings. All of the people on this fully loaded compilation have a recording device, some of them are mentioned on the liner notes: minidisc, dictaphone, DAT, binaural microphones and even a mobile phone. In all twenty tracks no additional processing is used. What I like about this compilation is the amount of new kids on the block like Joshua Manchester, Martin Clarke, Eldad Tsabary, Aatmaa and Ieva and also that some of the people that we only know through their music, such as Mystified, Swamps Up Nostrils and Torsten Wjiik bring something that is unaltered. It's a very nice and varied compilation. Some of the pieces could have easily been on 'Rhythm' (see last week), but the briefness of the tracks and the clarification in the liner notes make this a highly interesting compilation. Also included are HarS, Lasse-Marc Riek, Chris DeLaurenti, Bjerga/Iversen, Brekekekexkoaxkoax and Rinus van Alebeek. And at times as noisy as the usual releases on this label (which are in the hands of Jliat), in case you have any doubt about that. (FdW) Address:

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