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Vital Weekly 608

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NERVE NET NOISE - DARK GARDEN (CD by Intransitive Recordings)
HOWARD STELZER - BOND INLETS (CD by Intransitive Recordings)
To this very day I am writing this I landed in America and Howard Stelzer picked me up at the airport and proudly showed his latest releases on his Intransitive Recordings label (see Vital Weekly 559). Now, exactly one year later, he releases a three new CDs. Nerve Net Noise is a duo of Hiroshi Kumakiri (original synthesizer, Sherman filterbank, sound create) and TAGOMAGO (mix, effects, treatments). Over the years they have released a bunch of interesting, yet never easy, music on labels as Hronir and Intransitive. At times more conceptual based than music based, and it seems that 'Dark Garden' might be a bit more musical than conceptual. It sounds very analogue in approach, very dry. Clicky rhythms, deep bass sounds, that sort of thing, and in some pieces indeed inspired by the dance rhythms of techno, but this is hardly music to dance to. Head nod music at it's best for some of the pieces, but at other times even stranger than nodding your head and a bit unnerving. A bit of very raw Pan Sonic or Goem with whom they share a love of all things analogue. Strong production - very clear, very loud and bass heavy. I think because it's more musical than much of their previous work, this is their best release so far.
French composer Lionel Marchetti "returns to his favorite subject: the modern musique concrete composer as shaman", the label informs us. Inspired by 'Hatali Atseli', an ancient Greek ritual of the exchange of eyes. Marchetti uses fire, water, wind instruments and percussion along with the voice of Seijiro Murayama, the percussion of ANP. It's a work that is not like many around in the fields of musique concrete. Usually it's a strictly composed piece of music from daily sounds and field recording, heavily processed, but Marchetti and Murayama take it into a theatrical field and makes things very visual by using sound only. The crackling of fire, the far away drum sound, the splashes of water and the voice make you feel almost part of the ritual, but you remain an outsider. It's hard to tell what the ritual is about, but you can watch/listen with full fascination. It's a work that grows in the listener. It's brief at thirty-three minutes, but as soon as it was over, I played it again and it started to grow on me further. It's highly captivating visual music, very much along the lines of Etant Donnes' 'Bleu' CD - and that's possibly the only thing I can compared it with. A true beauty, fascinating and captivating.
Label boss Howard Stelzer started Intransitive Recordings ten years ago, by releasing his first CD 'Stone Blind', and while he has released many more works on a smaller scale (CDRs and cassettes), 'Bond Inlets' is his second major work. Stelzer is a man who plays cassettes in all sorts of crazy ways; a bit like a turntablist, but then with cassettes. Speeding them up, slowing them down, placed on metal and other crazy techniques. He's fun to watch to see him do this sort of thing live (alone or with others as he loves to play improvised music with others). In the earlier days, the work of Stelzer sounded like playing cassettes, in a free form collage like manner, but Stelzer too learned the tricks of the computer, but he doesn't use this as a tool of transformation. If anything it's a tool to staple your sounds, which is exactly (and only) what he does. On his tapes he has found sound - residue of the old music - but also his own sounds, field recordings. Inside the computer this is layered quite densely into a heavy piece of music. Stelzer knows and likes his noise, that much seems to be clear, but unlike so many noise makers around, his main effect is not the pure wall of noise, but rather a full wall of sound, with small events happening on all levels. A great work this one that shows a much more mature composer and one that has been constant refining his work over the last decade to cook up this master piece. (FdW)

PAPER & PLASTIC (2CD by Suitcase)
Although some may find it absolutely unnecessary, a nice package is better than nothing. A handmade packaging can be such drag - the Vital Weekly HQ has some prime samples to show to people. Somebody who is known, at least to some of the older readers that is for creating the most bizarre handmade packages is a man named Abo. His label/band Yeast Culture didn't release much (a 10" and Lp by himself, a Kapotte Muziek LP, a Hands To LP and a double 7" compilation, as far as I can remember), but they all had a great combination of handmade work and silkscreens. But Abo seemed to have disappeared, just as did a small cassette label from Atlanta called Suitcase Recordings. I am talking late 80s, early 90s here. Not a big deal. People come, people go. Loose their interest, their money, their idealism. Perhaps a pity for those who were promised a release, but they might have put it on something else later on. When opening today's mail, it was like going into a time machine. The box that came out of it, looked like Abo's work. Sticky tape, small objects, envelopes - a little box of Pandora. It turns out to be the result of a compilation that was supposed to be released a decade (or more?) ago, but despite a launch party in 1998, it was never for sale. Now it's released in a truly unique box. As easily you can spend the whole time listening and watching the various ingredients of this box - papers, objects, photo's. The line up reads as a who's who in experimental and noise music of a decade ago (I do realize some are still active as such): Inzekt, Sudden Infant, Wash Your Brains, Runzelstirn And Gurgelstock (these four represent the Schimpfluch label, who is probably on par with Abo when it came to crazy packaging), Small Cruel Party, Yeast Culture, Agog, Chop Shop, A4 (the man behind the label), Ios Smolders, Das Synthetische Mischgewebe, Merzbow, Das Synthetische Mischgewebe, Emil Beaulieu but also more forgotten names as TAC, Native X, z.B.u.a., Appi. Achim Wollscheid provides some of his more crazy conceptual approaches on the CD called 'Plastic'. Now I come to think of it, a lot of these are still active in experimental music (some less noise oriented), so Suitcase did a good selection. Some of the tape/collage/experiments may be naff and dull, but throughout it was a strong statement. By the end of every year, I always get sentimental, play old music (though not always of the likes of this) and reminiscine about the past. In that respect this box does wonders (limited wonders that is, as there are only seventy of these. A separate edition of 300 will be different, and the remainder of the edition will be in regular jewel cases). (FdW) ddress:

UUSITALO - KARHUNAINEN (CD by Huume Recordings)
Uusitalo is Sasu Ripatti, who is probably better known as Vladislav Delay and Luomo, and 'Karhunainen' is my first encounter with the music of the Uusitalo alias. The atmosphere on the album is coherent, except the first short intro track and the last one that sound like ambient music, all the other tracks are rhythmic and more or less upfront with their beats, forming a collage of few electronic dance music styles and creating diverse electro-techno-house atmospheres. With it's delicate production and execution, this album can be compared with Monolake's 'Polygon cities' or with The Orb's 'Okie dokie'. Uusitalo makes the tracks that are layered and also quite often improvises with the rhythms, which is probably not a surprise, because it's known that Sasu comes into the electronic music from a jazz background and improvisations are some of the main features in jazz music. I think the pieces on this album that are with more shifting rhythms and layers of sounds are more interesting and they make 'Karhunainen' to sound as a new direction or a new definition of something that can be called the ambient-techno of today, if The Orb were the ambient-house in the early '90-ties and later. The atmosphere on the album is dreamy and very suitable for listening at home and it's obvious that this Finnish producer has created another album that opens to the listener with it's layered sounds and an album that sounds best when Uusitalo improvises with the rhythmic and sound patterns in a Vladislav Delay way. (Boban Ristevski)

QUIO - PHIU (CD by Agf Producktion)
'Phiu' is the second album for Quio, who is one of the few female MCs in Germany that collaborates and performs with more various artists and sings over different styles of music, like drum'n'bass, garage and dubstep. In this case, on the album 'Phiu', she performs with her vocal over the music made by the German electronic music producer Agf. Since Agf is known for her experimental approaches in her own music, it's expected the hip-hop rhythms on this album to be more chopped than they are in the more common hip-hop or rap music. Knowing that the mastering is by Vladislav Delay and the album is released on Agf's label Agf Producktion, it's expected the production to be on a high level. There are many other people that Quio collaborates with in the 12 tracks and they all contribute to the vibe in the music, that is varied from louder to calmer tracks like 'Mole', or even a bit spiced up with a distant jazzy mood, as it's presented in 'Come closer'. The singing by Quio, to fit the various moods, changes from one track to another and in 'Better mood' it even reminds a little bit of Bjork. There's a specific atmosphere and a mood that are characteristic about this album, and that is a mixture of a kind of chopped out hip-hop beats and various MC performances by Quio, that altogether make this record layered, witty and delicate in it's execution, as the modern hip-hop music should be. (Boban Ristevski)

ZOMBIE BATTLE AXE - ... NOW YOU ARE DEAD (CD by Slut Factory Records)
'The Soundtrack to a fictitious b-movie zombie attack', is how Zombie Battle Axe (highest entry in the silly name contest, along with the name of their 'record company') describe their CD. It comes with hardly any information on the cover, which is something that I hardly understand, but alas such might be the world of Zombie Battle Axe. I am for one hardly a lover of zombie movies and thus hardly 'in the know' of their soundtracks, but ask me any day how I imagine it could sound, I may describe something like Zombie Battle Axe. That is, one track of the five, and I wouldn't state that all five sound alike, since that's what happens here. Fat organ sound, feeding through some effects (oh reverb, spooky!) and BBC's sound effect library number 13 to 15 (church bells, doors) in full effect thrown at random through the music. As much (or as less) I can take zombie movies any serious, the music for their fictitious counterparts is as equally non-serious. I had a good laugh about the music, and shouted 'hurrah for Slut Factory Records' and forgot all about it. (FdW) ddress:

Normally I don't like to lump in releases together, but with these two there are pretty similarities that's almost natural to tie them together. Both deal with ambient music, with the big A and both were conceived in the world of zeroes and ones: the computer. I have no idea who Evan Bartholomew is, but it seems to me that he is the man behind Somnia ('music for the spaces in between'), since the first two releases are made by him, in an edition of 777 copies (there is meaning there, I assume) of a nice package - textured, handmade paper, sewn together, that kind of thing. Bartholomew opens with a heavy long spacious piece of what could be vocalized textures of sound. The second and third track are alike, so I began to think this might be for all six tracks and which would have been a bit too much. But with 'Elusive And Effevescent Is Our Destination' a simple but effective beat pops in, in what seems to be a piece of hiss like sounds. 'Descending Deeper In Search Of The Timeless' opens strong but harks back to the tradition of Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze, early seventies cosmic music, while 'Reborn, We Fluctuate And Fade' cools the place down. Maybe a different order of the pieces would have been better, but throughout it's a pretty strong release for those who like the forementioned German cosmonauts, Eno and everything Ambient that came after that.
Yui Onodera is a bit better known for he has releases on his own Critical Path label, but also on Drone Records and And/OAR. Here he appears on Mystery Sea, but his telescope is not pointed towards the sea but to the sky, to the various stratospheres above us. In eight pieces Onodera takes us sky high where oxygen doesn't exist, everything is pitch black and weightless. His compositions are highly ambient in approach too and represent the 'one stroke of paint' approach: one sound, set forward with not much change or movement. It lasts a few minutes and then the next track appears. Quite a minimal approach, but seeing all tracks are called 'Substrate', its perhaps better to think of this one track in eight parts then eight separate tracks. It's a work that has no water references, which is kinda odd for this label, but musicwise it fits well among his fellow sailors. If there is one major difference between Onodera and Bartholomew, then it's the volume: the first is much softer than the latter. (FdW)

AKKORD I ON - PPP-FFF (CDR by Replica)
Slowly Vital Weekly conquers the world - or rather the world conquers Vital Weekly. Akkord I On are from Almaty, Kazakhstan - the very first time I receive something from that part of the world, of which I know nothing (but I never go the cinema either). The label Replica was launched during a festival of the same name, the very first (again!) in that country. Akkord I On is a duo of Roman Bliznetsov and Konstantin Timoshenko, who released an EP before and now come with 'ppp-fff', which classical music phrase for 'pianissimo-fortissimo' - very strong silence that is. Timoshenko plays laptop, field recordings and electronics, while Bliznetsov plays accordion (hence the band name), small horns and objects. Just as we recently saw with the release by Zavoloko, this seems to be a new wave of artists merging music from their own country along with microsound, techno or more experimental music. Akkord I On does it mainly with techno like music. Pieces are held together with a 4/4 rhythm, over which they freely (and more experimentally) freak out with their sounds. Not every moment succeeds well, such as 'Grace' which is way too long, and muddles in dub effects, but the opening 'F Birds' is very nice, with clear field recordings, melancholy on the accordion and a strong beat. Also 'Shoegazetta' is quite alright (and the titles shows their humor, 'L'Amourmansk' is another fine example). This is release may have needed a bit more editing, but as debut it's quite alright. (FdW) ddress:

Seventy-one tracks in twenty-five minutes. That is, if I'm not mistaken ten seconds per track. Kif Recordings asked, through internet, people to send in music that lasted ten seconds - one of those internet projects. You can play it, and before you read from the insert band name and track title, the next one is already almost over. Is there a point to all of this, I wonder? I could spend more time thinking about that than actually listening to this and still don't work out a proper answer. So maybe it's better to glance the various names and marvel at all the new names, silly names and silly titles and funny music. It's not all noise that shines here, but it prevails, in all its variations and deviations. Rather than trying to point out the point in all of this, I must admit it's all much more interesting that one would expect. A pity that some are only very short and one wish to hear more, in some cases ten seconds is still quite long. (FdW) ddress:

For as long as I know Nicolas Malevitsis, and that is a long time, I very rarely see him release any of his own music, but I know he creates some. Here he teams up with Giannis Karabeilas, who gets credit for 'live video mix', while Malevitsis plays tapes. It's a recording from 2005 of a pretty rough nature, both the music and the somewhat crude way of recording it. Sounds battle together in a free manner, fed through all sorts of electronic and have a nice, old fashioned noise feel to it. If one had told me it was the re-issue of a cassette from the mid 80s I would also have believed that. It's a pretty decent affair this one, which makes it's title come true. (FdW) ddress:

A new band, but with one person who we met before: Orphax' own Sietse is part of Zonderland, together with one Bart and Michel. There are no credits towards the instruments, but we hear drums, guitars and electronics (Orphax is known to play laptop, but who knows what else he has mastered?), but perhaps it's all pre-programmed on laptops? Who can tell in the digital age? A two hour session was recorded in a studio in Utrecht which was edited down to this one hour release in three lengthy pieces of music. There is an element of improvisation to be detected in this music - obviously, I should add - which could have perhaps needed a bit further trimming, but I must say hats off for this. Post rock may be well over its height but that should not stop people from creating music like that. Themselves give references to Godspeed, Subarachnoid Space, Tarentel and Arvo Part - who am I to add more names to that list. They took their references very well and play music that is very much alike that. Pieces are built up slowly and over the course of many minutes it grows and grows, like a cascading wave (the Godspeed approach I would call this), but then it breaks down as such as things started only to built new theme upon new theme. Head space music, post space rock, gravel noise or such things like. Dark, of course, but taken with all the right substances (more smoke than alcohol) you could easily be lost in this trip. I think Zonderland holds many promises and are perhaps unprecedented in The Netherlands. They should shop around for a real CD release and start touring: they can be big. (FdW) Address:

Destillaat is a yearly exhibition of young artists at Extrapool, taking the form of video, installation, painting, printing and in some cases music. To distill the new talent from the various art schools in The Netherlands. One of this years participants was German's Iris Ollschewski, who asked a whole bunch of people that at one point or another played at Extrapool to send in some sounds from which she would distill a composition that was played on four speakers in a small room. Thirteen people responded positively and Iris composed a six minute piece out of that. It's hard to believe that it comes from such diverse sources, even when Iris applies collage like methods to create the piece. The various sources flow quite naturally into eachother and form a coherent music composition of little over six minutes, also when 'reduced' to a stereo mix. Comes with a nice cover and limited to a few handful copies. Completists for the works of say Roel Meelkop, Harald Sack Ziegler or Machinefabriek should pay notice! (FdW)

SLO-FI - 'S LOOT (MP3 by Esc Rec)
Deventer's (that is in The Netherlands) Esc Rec closes the year, or perhaps starts up with three free MP3 releases, two of which are by artists whom we know from before and a new one. Yoshimi! is one Niek Hilkmann, who is only 18 years old, and who plays the cello (along with other instruments he claims to be qualified for, such as 'Conga, Guitar, Synth, Bass, Bongo, Tarbuka, Rababa, Harmonium, Trumpet, Accordeon, Euphonium, Drums, Ukulele and some other small things") , but for his electronic music he turns on the computer. He samples his own playing and makes popmusic out of it. Electronic music with quite some speed, until 'A Building', which is a more of a slow piece. The instruments that he claims to play all drop by at one point or another, and make an utter varied work that is quite funny and mature, despite his age. A promising start, and certainly somebody who is going to be picked by more mainstream alternative music.
Quite hot on the heels of 'Lo Fi' (see Vital Weekly 593), Toxic Chicken now arrives with 'Make My Day', which is hardly a break of styles. Short tracks with the raw and untamed energy of anarchy. A bit electro, a bit punk, still the sort of music to be used while engaged in various activities, like cleaning the house, doing shopping (MP3!) - anything but reading basically. It's hard to concentrate while this is squirting away from the speakers.
The final MP3 by Esc Rec (for the moment), is by slo-fi, the techno project of one Roel Meelkop, who is another life is known as Roel Meelkop, the serious composer of microsound, silence and such like. But rhythmical always had a strong interest to him. See his involvement with Goem, with Zebra and solo as slo-fi. The project that is probably the easiest to access is also the project that brought him the least fame. He has two old 12" releases on Audio.NL, one of Antenne Records and some CDR release, and here four tracks that could have been a great 12". But it hasn't been. If that is a great pity is not for me to tell: I am not a DJ of any kind, so the medium in which things take shape is always of least interest to me. But I can imagine that this would sound really fine on 12", when cut right, and that a fine DJ would spin this in front of a dancing crowd. That would in a world of justice, but there is no such world. I think slo-fi makes great dance music, even for those who hardly move their feet, like me. It's a pity that this side of Meelkop's career never took off and he is not ranked as important as he is in that area. Shame shame. But now you can take it for free and see what you missed. (FdW) ddress:

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