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Vital Weekly 609

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VAIMOUS - BOX (CD by Empop)
The man behind Vaimous is one Johan Sandsjö, who still uses software he downloaded to his 486 computer in 1998, when the Swedish government started a program of bringing PCs to their civilians. The pieces on this CD were recorded over a long period, from 2003-2006, and they were recorded to be played live. Thirteen relatively short electro pop tracks are to be found here: stomping rhythm box, fat bass and vocoder vocals. Maybe it lacks some variation here and there, but throughout it's a very pleasant listening. I was reminded of good Suction Records releases (whatever happened there?) and releases of Swedish Slowball label - which also seems very old by now. But that's doesn't mean that this sounds old or worn out, Vaimous brings quirky uptempo electro-pop punk and it's great. A small strip of sunlight on a rainy day. (FdW) Address:

The Dutch word zondag translates as Sunday in English and indeed these mprovisations were recorded in a single day, a Sunday in January 2005. uite in contrast with the speed of the recording, the recordings themselves ere then shelved for no less than 2,5 years before they were revised by Roel Meelkop in June 2007. This CD, smartly packed in cardboard material as used for cardboard boxes, lists exactly who does what on the sleeve. Meelkop plays on Roland SH-101, Ielasi plays guitar, De Waard plays his trusty and
ancient Korg MS-20 and Stelzer does what he does best on cassettes. The CD starts off quite promising with the beautiful track "Untitled". In fact, all tracks are called "Untitled", which is something I have trouble with. I know I'm something of a "title-man", but even so by calling tracks "untitled" you take the same statement as if you had given them actual titles. I even tend to think of this practice as a bit "artsy-fartsy" for "artsy-fartsy" sake. But enough of me complaining, this is about the music and, as said, the first track is beautiful. With a relaxing pace, a fragile atmosphere of synthesetics interspersed with what sounds like guitar (much like an instrumental track by Swedish wonderboys Sheriff) this is gripping music. However, this relaxation ends abruptly with track 2, which is far more noisy with nervous arpeggios and blasts of noise. All within a certain range mind you. It's noisy, but it's never noise. Despite that, this is not my favorite track. Track 4 has low MS-20 groans and sweeping wind effects. Later on bells appear, which (to me) makes the Sheriff connection ever stronger. Track 5 features cassettes played like only Stelzer can. Anyone who's ever seen our small hero live, will know what I mean. The idea that there is someone out there using cassettes and a cassette recorder as instruments is something which I consider to be simply brilliant. The final track is a remix by Evala. I'm not quite sure of what earlier track this is a remix, but the result really fit the previous tracks. Slow, carefully played and despite the four people involved, quite coherent in atmosphere. Despite the noisy bits and pieces on Zondag, the sound and feel of the music is remarkably open and even tranquil. With four personalities at the helm there is a huge risk that egos take over and all good intentions are drowned in a pool of muddy noise. Luckily Zondag is nothing like that. In all, Zondag is a great listen, restrained and well-played. With not a dull moment in sight, this album will turn any Sunday into a lovely quiet fun-day. (Freek Kinkelaar) Address:

DEADSET - KEYS OPEN DOORS (CD by Front Room Recordings)
It's not easy recording a good album with electronic dance music these days, when there are a lot of good artists and labels that are releasing their music for the dance floors. With their debut 'Keys open doors' Deadset have managed to do that, to record a good album with primary dance music but also very suitable and amusing for home listening. It is not a surprise that the music by Deadset is a mixture of electro, house and techno, since the mix of those three styles is common in almost every modern dance music production today. In each of the 15 tracks on this CD some of the previously mentioned styles prevail and Deadset are usually using the electro elements in their music, to develop the melodies in their tracks. The 4/4 beats are there, the techno atmosphere is also present with the electro moments and even some experiments in few of the tracks, which remind and can be compared with the music of Modeselektor. Deadset are not afraid to experiment and that is how they achieve in creating a special touch or a twist in some of the tracks, as it's well done in 'Ape man abacus'. With an excellent production, never sounding narrowminded but with an atmosphere that is varied in the various tracks, 'Keys open doors' is sure one of the best dance albums in 2007, an album that sounds great when it's listened at home too. (Boban Ristevski) Address:

Finnish label "Some Place Else" focuses on music of the outer limits. The label had its 10 th anniversary in 2007 and almost approaches 50 releases in its catalogue. Having reviewed a couple of their older releases some years ago in this magazine, the two latest releases definitely represent some of the more extreme expressions from the label. First album is a joint venture between two of Russia's interesting projects from the Noise-related scene. Noises Of Russia is a quartet known for its high activity of live performances plus a large number of albums and videos released. The other project is called Bardosenetticcube also being in the forefront on the Russian scene. This album titled "New orthodox line" is a strange beast even in the noise scene with the inclusion of sacral soundscapes consisting of church bells and orthodox choirs swirling in the storm of abrasive noise drones. Consisting of one lengthy track of 47 minutes the expression is impressive with a nice emotional approach to sonic aggression. Intense. The other album just released by the "Some Place Else"-label present to compatriots of Finland. No Xivic is the solo project of Finnish artist Henkka Kyllönen known for his electro-acoustic approach to dark ambient. Gelsomina is a Finnish harsh noise group. Containing three tracks, the album opens with a collaboration between the two projects: The track titled "Furnace" runs approx. 25 minutes and has much focus on guitar-based noise and expressive buzz-drones. Second track titled "Everlasting fire" demonstrates the harsh style of Gelsomina in full throttle. "This is the way youth get to know Satan and hell" the description says on the cover-sleeve and yes! - This work sound like the symphony of hell - impressive. Equally to aforementioned track, the third and final track on the album, titled "Greater suffering", wasn't made to make the listener feel comfortable during the listening process. Also belonging to the harsh expression, the track is stylishly more subdued and introvert compared to the expressively extrovert contribution by No Xivic. Towards the end the hostile noise drones are overtaken by atmospheric, almost musical drones ending up with a very beautiful finale to this particular track as well as to the album as a whole. Two great releases by Some Place Else. (Niels Mark) Address:

In the old(er) days of Vital Weekly, when we were wasting paper, we started a discussion about women and experimental music, and why there were so few. We never found the answer, and in twenty years things hardly improved. Still the number of males outnumber the females in these pages - sad but true. But here are two, one representing the 'old' (careful there, my boy) and the 'young'. The old, without any disrespect, is Diana Rogerson, who used to go by the name of Crystal Belle Scrodd ages ago, and then was silent for a long time returns to the scene. Maybe you recognize her voice from Nurse With Wound albums, and in her own right she may sound a bit like the nurses, but hey what can do if the man if your companion for so long. Also partying here is Matt Waldron of Irr App (ext). In all seven tracks the voice of Rogerson plays the central role. Reciting and singing her usual unusual lyrics, set against a great, warm bed of rhythm and electronics. Psychedelic, cinematic are the keywords here. It's been a while since I last heard anything by her, and hearing this made me think to unshelve some of her previous work too. A highly refined work, culminating in the almost fourteen minutes 'Chant D'Amour/Da Mort' of distant piano tones, warm drones and text.
The young generation is Freida Abtan from Montreal. Most curious enough, her feminine side is hardly shown, save for some voice treatments here and there. Much of what she does can be lumped in with acousmatic music, even when it seems - although I can't be sure - it's less computer based and more tape like. It seems - again - that she fills the multi-track recorder with lots of weird sounds that hardly make sense, until she starts to mix them. Then things fall into place, faders go up and down, and the sounds are fed through an endless line of effects, perhaps a bit too many effects at times, but she depicts crazy sound collages. Less academic than her Canadian counterparts of No-Type/Empreintes Digitalis, divided into much shorter pieces than is usual in that scene. The Nurse With Wound influence is quite apparent, with sounds bouncing in and out, swirling electronics and female voices every now and then. Quite a pleasant album, of which I could only say it's a bit too long for my taste. It lasts about an hour, and could have been twenty minutes shorter, which have had a much higher impact. Interesting to see that the younger is the more experimental of the two, while Rogerson stays more of musical side, but she knows how to keep her things more under control and Abtan lets things run more freely. But both are great, no matter of generation, gender or differences. (FdW) Address:

These boys have guts. A nice package, a pro-pressed CD, but besides their names, a title for the release, the year and track titles, no other information. No label, no website. The note said 'improvisations from Seoul', but that's it. Quite odd. Perhaps they don't want to sell it? I can't see why that should be. It's a bit hard to tell what sources Kevin Parks and Joe Foster up (down?) in Seoul are using. At times I thought they were dueling guitars and electronics, like reverb and echo units, but then there might also be some computer involvement. Or perhaps not. Things work best when they keep their material under control. That is when things are carefully played, feedback kept under control, blowing balloons and let the sustain run out beyond it's decay. When not, and those moments are also present here, things explode in a loud and vicious manner. This is more towards the end of the CD than at the quite strong first two tracks. With considerable lengths, this is a bit overlong and the editing tool could have been used more. However if one could play just the first two pieces and the softer opening of the third, then one has a great CD. Switch it off when things get out of control. (FdW) Address: none give

RADIO RUIDO - FALSE ROSETTA (double 7" by Free103point9)
Audio Dispatch is a series of releases by the ever so active Free103point9, a radio station, concert space and who knows what else - a label also! In this series they release work by people who played there, or who were asked to record something specially for them. Latitude/Longitude is a duo of Micheal Garofalo and Patrick McCarthy, which are announced as an 'electro-acoustic duo', since they use 'test oscillators, homemade cassette tape and field recordings, radio transmissions, toy electronics as well as traditional instruments as guitar, banjo, mbira and vocals'. I may have expected something else than this, but these two pieces are gorgeous alternative pop songs. The 'day-side' has 'Solar Filters', a piece for drum loop, banjo, melodica and voice. There is something country & western like about it, or a workman like song, of simple beauty. 'Mother Evening', on the other side, is a more mellow song, based around a simple one-stomp loop and sorrowful voice in a bed of pedalsteel and perhaps some electronics. Both pieces cry for more. A sort of alternative pop 7" that I cherish since the early 80s. One long tradition here.
Radio Ruido is a project by Tom Mulligan and he deals with number stations. In case you forgot about those since the excellent 'Conet Project', number stations are shortwave radio signals that consist of number reading, words, tunes, morse code and are perhaps perhaps used by secret agents all over the world. Dial on your radio to the far end and look for it yourself. It can provide some excellent source material to create music. Mulligan creates four pieces out of what he found on the waves. It's of course pretty experimental and dark this music, but what else can you expect? It tends towards the noise side of things, but it never goes over the top. Perhaps that is a bit of a problem, I thought. It stays all a bit too much on the safe side of things. No menace, no treat, no harm. Nice, but perhaps a bit too normal. (FdW)

The third release by Joe Frawley, following 'Tangerine' (Vital Weekly 579) and 'Wilhelmina's Dream' (Vital Weekly 564), which both were highly appreciated in these pages. Frawley is a piano player, which comes more to light on this release I think than on his previous two releases. There are more differences to be spotted, for instance the fact that we are dealing with a story throughout the whole release: 'the central is between a visitor to an unfamiliar city and a therapist exploring the mind of a patient through hypnotic techniques'. To his end, Frawley uses various conversations, dialogues and speeches from various speakers and various situations that he stole, or perhaps speaks himself, well some of it. The piano music not unlike Ravel, Debussy, Satie or more recent Harold Budd. Very cleverly he mixes in some field recordings and classical music lifted from other sources. I have no idea why there is a 2008 remix of 'Wilhelmina's Dream', since it's recorded in 2007, and even when it's not a strange thing on this release it seems, conceptually at least a bit out of place. Otherwise I think this is another great release by Frawley, a great combination of melancholic piano music, field recording, spoken word and plunderphonic. (FdW)

Only a few weeks ago, in Vital Weekly 600, I reviewed 'Virtiuous Circles' by Jeff Gburek on A Question Of Re-Entry, which I thought was a great work of field recordings, here he returns from his home in Berlin with another release on a Greek label and 'Red Rose For The Sinking Ship' 'informally constitutes a sonic essay about Mao Zedong's leadership of the Chinese Revolution, for fifty years until his death'. How that works exactly is not told, as Gburek loves a bit of mysticism. Triple Bath delivered some more notes about Gburek and we learn that he plays the guitar and self-constructed electronic environment to process the guitar playing. He has played with many improvisers from the field of electronic and improvised music area. This new work deals with the guitar and not with field recordings. Divided in five parts, this is however one piece. In the beginning the guitar sounds like a guitar, moving delicately through various forms of electronic processing, without losing the idea of a real guitar. It ends in the very last minute by sounding like a music box and in between it has taken many shapes: loud click noise music, soft sections and in much of that the guitar is not recognized as such. Not at all. It's again a pretty fascinating journey that he takes the listener on, moving through various textures, moods and atmospheres. Despite some of the harsher textures here and there more microsound than one would expect. A great release, again, one that will reveal some of its beauty only after a repeated playing. (FdW) ddress:

Exactly one year ago, in Vital Weekly 559, I reviewed 'Vintermusik', a collaboration between Dag Rosenqvist and Rutger Zuydervelt, the latter of course better known as the owner of Machinefabriek, and no doubt one of the more busier bees around the globe and fastest rising stars on the firmament. Rosenqvist is also known as Jasper TX from Sweden. Glacierlike music I wrote back then. The rest of the year was spend on recording another collaboration, no doubt through the use of the internet and the outcome is this new piece, twenty-three minute in length and working in a strict linear fashion. I have no idea who does what here, or who created the mix of it, but it's a great work. High static crackles, a mid-range bed of warm drones and a bass that rumbles somewhere below. Much along the recent works of Machinefabriek, and a sound that brought him his fame so far. Maybe there is a risk of repeating, but no doubt the fans will take that for granted. Nice one.
A bit older is the release by Al Margolis' If, Bwana project. I wasn't blown away by his last release (see Vital Weekly 602), but this one makes up things in a nice way. The two pieces here date back from 2006. 'Too Too' was made with 'computer processing, some of the source material drawn from Salvatore Linguido's CD 'Theme', it says on the cover and I think it's a trade mark If, Bwana piece. Various layers of sound move over eachother. Layers that sound similar, but not always of equal length thus creating a phase shifting pattern. A bit drone/ambient like, but more modern classical than anything noise related. In 'Imp' Margolis fiddles around with a ARP 2600 synthesizer in what seems to be a random manner, but here too he cleverly builds a whole web of sounds. From all the aleatory sounds, small patterns occur, that only start making sense over the course of the piece. More 'rhythmic' than much of his other work, but Margolis applies his techniques and it works well. Great covers on both of these releases. (FdW)

Frans de Waard seems to like business card CD-Rs, and he regularly releases some on his Moll imprint, the latest one being a collaborative work by himself and Howard Stelzer. Each of the two has one track and I guess they exchanged source material and then worked individually on their respective pieces. Stelzer is of course well known for his tape manipulation techniques, which dissolve all information originally stored on the tape into blasts of abstract noise. However, rather than the start/stop-aesthetic that I would have expected from him, his piece on this CD-R is an almost static drone. Even at just over two minutes in length it is utterly captivating because of its textural quality; it consists of a thick hissing sound, which occasional reveals some tiny acoustic details, and stays as minimal as complex throughout. Frans' track is then much more dynamic, a fragmented composition based on processed bits of what I would guess to have been burst of tape noise. It is a solid, OK piece of abstract digital noise - quality stuff, albeit not really surprising. In the context of this short release it does make perfect sense, though, and the juxtaposition of two distinct aesthetic approaches makes for a good five-minute release.
Peter Duimelinks is, as it is probably well known among the readers of Vital Weekly anyway, one third of Kapotte Muziek (with Roel Meelkop and Frans de Waard being the other two members). The track on this 3" CD-R was created in 2001 already, but back then rejected by the label it had originally been recorded for. This mode of production obviously allows for more precise accentuation than live improvisations (Kapotte Muziek's usual domain, these days). This becomes particularly obvious during the first part of Duimelinks' track in which he focuses on the quiet and delicate sounds of small objects gently rubbed and stroked, accompanied by almost imperceptible electronic pulses in the background. In contrast the gritty shortwave frequencies, which he introduces later, seem almost brute, but they work well as a kind of compositional hinge to lead over to the final, again quieter part. Duimelinks uses his material in a very sensitive way, composing with the given sounds rather than treating and processing them extensively, thus keeping close to the original aesthetic (which I can of course only extrapolate from other KM recordings I've heard, as I don't know Duimelinks' sources for this piece) while successfully translating the tension of live improvisation into a more controlled and calculated mode. It's hard to see why this wasn't released back when it was created, but it is for sure a good decision to make it available now. (Magnus Schaefer)

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