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Vital Weekly 605

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MB/HUE/FHIEVEL - ERIMOS (CD by Digitalis Industries)
STEVEN R. SMITH - OWL (CD by Digitalis Industries)
The Digitalis Recordings catalogue is quickly expanding barrel of anything non mainstream, but these three releases also proof the big variety in sounds offered. Just like the other M & M (Muslimgauze and Merzbow) Maurizio Bianchi has a wealth of releases, which seems to be vastly growing in more recent times. Maybe I wondered before how much of it is his work, but here I do it again. The cover says 'inspiration and concept by MB', but 'mixed and mastered by Hue', whereas the music is created by Bianchi, Hue (Matteo Uggeri) and Fhievel (Luca Bergero), the latter known as Sparkle In Grey. So in what way is this a MB album or, say a Hue album? Or is the presence of the name MB a mere marketing trick. Let's say that it's the work of three persons (and two further guest players on guitar and piano). The concept is about the emptiness of deserts and solitude of hermits, in Greek called 'Erimos'. In a single forty-one minute piece this desert is depicted through calm and meditative music, but it's not a single ambient drone. This trio moves through various stages of which the first two are drone like, time stretched pieces and synthesizers (at five minutes almost techno like), but as the work evolves and extra piano and guitar are moved into this electronic landscape things step out of the ordinary drone/synthesizer music, and perhaps becomes a bit kitschy, but throughout it's a fine work, and not as empty as desert is (well, or perhaps as we think it is).
Who or what Mudboy is we still don't know, not after his previous releases (for Ultra Eczema for instance), but to me he seems like a real outsider. A guy with an organ, some effects, his voice, well and perhaps nothing else. Like a savage poet he sits in his single room apartment and records his songs - not really with lyrics or something like that, but more atmospheric sketches of angst, desire and despair. A drone piece, a piece of rhythm and fury, such as in probably the best worked out opening piece 'Hungry Ghosts!' or minimal, jazz like rhythmbox in 'In Which The Sea Hag Is Lead Away, or We Are Lead by Her'. Mudboy throws it all on tape (well, that's gotta to be a computer, since the quality is quite good, and not the usual outsider lo-fi), and the differences in volume between the pieces is quite high. I thought it was a great release, pretty raw in a way, but also sophisticated in the way it was recorded and mixed. Relaxed at times and a rough diamond at others. The enclosed film displays the psychedelic nature of some of the songs - well, that, and the excellent cover.
The new main feature on 'Owl' by Steven R. Smith seems to be the fact that he now singing. But for me that's hardly a new fact since I never knew he wasn't singing. Smith is a member of Jewelled Antler, something I may have read about in the Dire, but never heard their music. Also outside the format or genres, Smith plays his guitar in a desolate way, sings his desolate songs, about lost world, lost love and whatever, and yet Digitalis still calls this 'hopeful'. Perhaps it's because it's raining outside that it's hard to see anything hopeful about this, but it's not suicidal either. Hardly music to cheer you up, that much is true. I am not a big lover of male vocals (well, of vocals in general), but in the case of Smith things work best indeed when it's instrumental, as the drone like 'The Tree King'. Smith doesn't have the crazy power of Mudboy, but the same loneliness as Bianchi, be it in an entirely different way. (FdW)

Of both these improvisers I never heard. Angharad Davies is from London, plays violin which can be heard on releases for Absinth, Creative Sources, Simple Geometry, NEA and Emanem, whereas Tisha Mukarji is from Copenhagen, works on the inside of a piano and made her solo debut on Creative Sources in 2006. These two women got together in July of this year at the Goldsmith's College to play this concert of a highly delicate nature. The music is quite soft, but not silent or empty. There is always something going on here. The violin sounds at times like a violin, but also at times like a small sine wave. Mukarji hits, strums and bows the inside of the piano and it sounds like she adds a bit more musical elements to the music. Fragile music for which one has to turn up the volume quite a bit and stay focussed. Otherwise you may miss a few bits. To treat this like aural wallpaper doesn't justify the music at all. Full attention is needed for this piece of beauty. It may take time, but its rewarding too. (FdW)

Today I did some physical exercise, of what nature is of course not of big importance. I came home, opened my mail, and found this CD by Floriana vs Macro, popped it into the CD player, because I read the words 'deep ambient', 'deep jazz' and 'deep slow dub'. Why this one, and not (fill in some of the others from this weekly)? Because I wanted to sit down and relax. Simple as that and this seemed the right choice. It is the right choice, I hasten to add. Quite, spacious, rhythmic, jazzy ambient dub. Organic. Flowing and floating. Like having a warm bath - except I have no bath. Floriana is Joerg Schuster who is owner of the Dalaki label and Macro is 'a very nice guy from Madrid, Spain'. Ah Spain. Sun. A bit of warmth. No rain. No such thing here. But the music, the music makes up for this. Warm music. A bit glitchy, modern living room music. I sat down, listened a bit superficially and felt relaxed. This is not a work with a higher meaning or an intriguing concept, just eight fine pieces of entertaining music. After a day of hard work that is sometimes the only thing one wants. (FdW) ddress:

From the several highly active composers of the
Ukraine - Kiritchenko, Kotra and Zavoloka - the latter is quite active and her music is rapidly progressing. This new album is one of four, dedicated to the four elements. 'Viter' means wind and it's the air vibrations of violin and cello that is at the hearth of this CD. She has those played by Olga Potramanska and Anton Zhukov, while Zavoloka herself edits the music on her computer, by adding rhythms and electronic sounds. Seven short tracks, in total just under twenty minutes. It's strange, strange music. It's light of nature, swirling and moving. The lack of any knowledge on my side of any folk music makes this hard to place down. The rhythms are borrowed from the world of clicks and cuts, but the whole string part could be traditional, folkloristic music from the Ukraine. Or perhaps not. It sounds like recorded in a cathedral. If you read this, it may seem an uneasy marriage, these two totally alienated approaches, but rest assured: they make a perfect combination. To incorporate what is called - horribly - ethnic/traditional/third world music with electronics is a new path of which Zavoloka is the among the first to do so, and it makes way for perhaps an interesting new direction in music. Hurrah for that. 'Viter' is a most promising start. (FdW)

ANAKRID - UNODOS (2CD by Beta Lactam-ring Records)
Despite being active since 1990, Chris Bickel, who is behind the name Anakrid showed up once in Vital Weekly, with his self-released 'Reality Is Elitist' (see Vital Weekly 391), but he has released a lot more music, on CDRs and LPs. This new double CD compiles two self-released LPs and some bonus tracks from the same sessions. Normally Bickel plays in various punk bands such as In/Humanity, Guyana, Punch Line and Confederate Fagg but for his solo music he does something entirely different. 'Father', the first CD is a nineteen track affair, which brings out the collage man. Bicker has all sorts of sounds (percussion, cheap old tapes, microphones) which he throws together in what seems to be an audio-blender (no, don't look on the internet for this lovely device, I made up the word): sampling his stuff together, adding more electronics in what becomes a wild, hot brew of sound. The influence of Nurse With Wound is never far away in this work. It's wild, even industrial at times, but the musical element is never lost. The second CD in this package is 'Rapture Of The Deep', which takes the material into a different direction. Things happen here in a much more peaceful manner. No wild collages, longer tracks and in general a more electronic approach. It seems as if sound is captured inside an electronic system, locked in rather and from there on things start to live their own life, in that closed system. Here no real Nurse With Wound influence, but rather that of the academics of the fifties and sixties, the era of serious composed electronic music, although Anakrid is not as rigid as the old masters. His form is more free, aiming for dark effects and sounding like a good horror soundtrack. Two different sides of the music of Anakrid, now that's what I call a successful double CD package. (FdW) ddress:

DEUTERROR - LE GUEULE DE GUERRE (CD by Steelwork Maschine)
It is not every day you find reviews of albums released by Israeli labels in Vital Weekly. Topheth Prophet is an independent Israeli label formed in summer 2002 whose aim is to spread the knowledge of the Israeli noise scene to the outside world. The label focuses on styles ranging from harsh noise across power electronics to dark ambient. This 13th release from the label deals with drone-based ambient music. On this particular release one of the presented projects has its origin in Sweden. It is a split album between Israeli project SEVENTEEN MIGS OF SPRING and Swedish project MOLJEBKA PULSE. The album opens with the 27 minute long track titled "Ravha" from the latter mentioned project. The brain behind Moljebka Pvlse is the Swedish sound artist Mathias Josefson who explores the sounds of both acoustic and electronic origins, quite often with the starting point taken in found sounds and field recordings. The "Ravha"-track is a nice example of Mr. Josefson's ability to transform the sounds of reality into a world of drone-based minimalism. Opening with a mixture of concrete natural sounds and buzzing drones the expression slowly turns more and more harsh as the field recordings develops into noisy drones including spoken words. At a point the concrete sounds fades away or turns into sonic abstraction. The track moves into pure drone ambient minimalism. Nice work.
Seventeen Migs Of Spring is an Israeli project consisting of three members, Gurfa, K-76 and B-74. As was the case with aforementioned Swedish project the conceptual approach of this Israeli project is sonic drones based on concrete sounds. Compared to the Swedish project the Israeli projects goes further to the extremes with sounds of a rather noisy kind. Especially four or the five tracks get quite harsh with the use of an on-going mixture of static noise and radio-based shortwave frequencies.
Inbetween the two projects comes a collaborative track that successfully combines the style of the two projects. Everyone interested in drone based ambient with focus on concrete sounds should definitely check out this album. Talking about drone-based works another one comes from French label Steelwork Maschine. After having released two mp3-albums, "Cohortaris Lex" and "Agripen", Belgium sound artist calling himself Deuterror is ready with his debut CD-release. The album titled "Le Gueule De Guerre" is a very dark piece of ambience. Dominating on the album is harsh industrial-based buzz drones giving a quite hard-edged and disturbing approach to dark ambience. Despite the cynic and quite brutal air saturating the album, there is a great atmosphere adding some melodic warmth to the album. Especially the final track shines with its mixture of brutality and beauty woven together into a tense contrast between grim reality and idyllic soundscapes. The limited edition of 1000 copies also includes a section computer-generated images and short film clip of medieval-looking fantasy landscapes, suiting the atmosphere of the music very well. (Niels Mark)

BOWLINE (CD by Sonoris)
Behind Bowline we find the more and more present musician David Maranha, who was once best known as Osso Exotico, and these days also works as a solo musician and one Francesco Dillon. He is from Italy and studied the cello. These days he is a member of Alter-Ego (see Vital Weekly 602 for their work with Gavin Bryars) as well as playing with people like Matmos, Pan Sonic and Scanner. A man of many talents. Here too Dillon plays cello, whereas Maranha gets credit for 'hammond organ, violin, vox amplifier (with Francesco cello signal), glass harmonica, tremolo and distortion pedals'. Of the four tracks , the first is the most silent one, taking several minutes to get started. Like with so many other projects of David Maranha, in which ever form it takes, this is a work of minimalism. Of sheer, utter minimalism and what beauty, once again. The careful strumming of various string instruments, the drones added, sparsely of course, from the other instruments. Three short tracks which eventually culminate in the fourth track, which takes up about two-third of the CD and in which the three previous excursions return but glorified. Everything comes together here. If you love Osso Exotico or any of the works Maranha did after that, this is will be a most welcome addition. Also fans of traditional minimal music, especially Lamonte Young will find this a great release, I'm sure of that. (FdW) ddress:

At the basis of this LP (which is also released on CD by Important Records) is a 'conceptual composition' from Duane Pitre: two 'long-form drone compositions' with 'set tonic, set pitch classes, playing methods and technique restrictions' and is played by Pitre himself on guitar, and the Pilotram Ensemble which has a tone generator, bass clarinet, alto saxophones and a violin, with the extra addition of a pump organ. Two, twenty-five minute pieces of pure drone music, in which the instruments play along the tone generator, thus combining acoustic and electronic sounds. This is hardly y'r common drone music that one can find a lot in these pages. It's rather a piece of modern classical music, perhaps along the lines of the Theatre Of Eternal Music (if only we could hear more of them), but also Alvin Lucier and to a lesser extent Phill Niblock (although one could easily link this to 'Five More String Quartets'). Beautiful, peaceful music of slow passing clouds of sound, all excellently recorded. Music rises, falls, rises and falls again, staying in that harmonious way of seemingly one drone (well, two). Great work for the dark winter night. (FdW)

MARK HAMM - TO THE NAKED EYE (CDR by Muertepop Records)
You could expect Mark Hamm to be English or American, but his real name is Francesco Giannico, from Taranto, in the southern part of Italy. He studied 'Musicology and Musical Heritage' and has been active since 1999 as a guitarist, with several self-released productions and some on Afe and Muertepop, like the most recent one 'To The Naked Eye'. The idea behind this album is 'the involution of post-modern humanity in the globalization age, or more simply, a sour consideration of our days'. That may sound quite heavy and some of the titles are top heavy depression, like 'academic disumanity [sic]' or 'Overheated Century', I must say none of that reflected in the music. Throughout the music has a calm and peaceful touch to it, with largely processed guitar sounds - be it from traditional sound effects or computer processing. Dark ambient music, isolationist as it was called ages ago, but Hamm does a nice job at what he does. Lighten up, I'd say, the world is in decay, but let's plant a tree. The music and the film presented here are a nice start at that. (FdW) ddress:

MAJA RATKJE - TEIP (3"CDR by Ambolthue)
It's good to note that Maja Ratkje doesn't think of herself to be famous not to release CDRs, let alone 3" CDRs. 'Teip' (phonetic for tape I guess) was recorded in the last three years using a dictaphone. I am not sure wether this is a collage of various sounds found on her dictaphone and to what extend she did some processing to it. The cover says it was 'randomly recorded in two different speeds and chronologically copied from the original micro cassette for this release'. On hearing the twenty minute collage, I think she hasn't done much about, other than making a nice sequence of sounds. Field recordings as pure as possible. Singing, applause, odd atmospheres and such like. Not a very refined work of course, and the recording quality isn't the best around, but it's a curious, private document.
Noise man Torstein Wjiik played the Støy Pa Landet festival in June of this year, using vocals, electronics, samples and feedback. I am not sure if these twelve minutes span his entire concert. I am not sure why it was necessary to release this. I believe Wjiik plays more concerts, and what he does isn't much different from his usual work, loud noise, screaming his lungs out, feedback and distortion, so why release this? The twelve minutes are o.k., but it shouldn't have been much longer, I think. (FdW)

VIOLET & FREIBAND - FENDER BENDER Fender Bender (3" CDR by Moll)
WANDER (businesscard CDR by Moll)
Moll's back catalogue is expanding rapidly. The latest three additions are one 3" and two business-card CD-Rs, all wrapped in the usual (and usually very beautiful) photopaper covers and of course all related to Frans de Waard in one way or the other. Right after the curious all-acoustic concert by Kapotte Muziek (Moll 11) there is another pretty curious release - a short field recording work created by Frans' eight-and-a-half year old daughter Elise. If I hadn't known about her age when listening to the music, I wouldn't have guessed it, as the track doesn't sound childlike at all, but rather serious, except for the finishing vocal part, maybe. The world heard through the ears of a child (couldn't resist that cheesy image) comprises the sounds of a train, a washing machine, ping-pong balls (or something like that), looped giggles and more, which is less easy to identify, but makes for slightly mysterious, soft rumbling. Elise puts in some effective breaks and counterpoints and knows how to mix her sounds to keep them interacting (and interesting). This is definitely a good start and I just wonder what kind of music Elise will be doing when the first of her contemporaries will begin to realize that something like musique concrète exists.
"Laptops a gogo" it says on the cover of the collaboration between Frans and Jeff Surak/Violet and that translates as two people improvising on their laptops, going through their respective sound-archives and offering bits and pieces for the other to react. The overall mood is rather calm here but with a dark and occasionally harsh grounding. Despite being edited and "fit into shape", there is a distinct jam-session-character to this recording and this means you get all the surprising changes, the improvisatory friction, but also the moments, which lack a direction. Nevertheless, these two improvisers keep things under control and manage to make their point. But since I'm in general not as enthusiastic for all-digital improvisation as I used to be, 20 minutes is just the right amount of that to take for me.
If I've learned my history lessons correctly, Frans de Waard and Freek Kinkelaar started Wander, when the music they recorded as Beequeen shifted from drone to a more pop-oriented style (some six or seven years ago?). Wander took over the drone part and each of their releases is in a different media format and always with a vintage erotic image on the cover. So this is their business-card CD-R release, a five-minute composition. My guess would be that the source sounds are acoustic in nature - maybe organ sounds - which are digitally shaped into dark and rather austere sine wave-like sounds and pulsations. Despite the drone-tag Wander's piece is not minimal at all, but pretty lively, with continuous gentle shifts and variations. Yet, when it comes to drone aesthetics one short track might not be enough to leave a true impression, so even if this is quite a pleasant track it would at least call for more material to do justice to the music's aesthetic parameters. (Magnus Schaeffer) ddress:

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