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Vital Weekly 612

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D_RRADIO (CD by Cabin Boy/Distraction Records)
MOIRA STEWART - SWEETNESS, YES! (CD by Cabin Boy/Distraction Records)
Of course I have no idea how the young people these days feel about a 7", but when grand daddy - me - was young, money was sparse and you couldn't always afford to buy all you wanted, so 7"s were the preferred format. One great song, if you were lucky the b-side was also great. This you had to play until more money arrived to buy another one. Maybe that's why I still like 7"s. D_rradio surprised me with three 7"s on Distraction Records (Vital Weekly 510, 524, 546) and they have worked for three years on their debut CD, and guess what? Like in the old days, when you saved up from washing daddy's car, and you could finally afford to buy that LP by that beloved artist, it was not always the same genius as was the 7"s. That's what happened here. What sounds great as one pair of tracks, may sound dull when bundled up in a pair of ten. In itself they might be great tunes, filled melancholica, dry humor, nice moves and such like, but perhaps it's the fact that they come in series of ten, instead of two, the uniform sound, the absence of vocals that made me less enthusiastic about this debut album. Maybe follow Joe Jackson's 'I'm The Man' and release a boxset of five 7" records?
But things can be entirely opposite too. My first encounter with Moira Stewart, for their debut album, is a straight shot of joy. But it would also lead to a small confession. Well, maybe I coughed up before: I like New Order. And straight from the opening lines of their first track (no titles here), synths, drum machines, ah-ha choir, thin lead vocals and guitars, I feel at home. Except that I am really at home instead of listening to my favorite New Order on my Ipod in the train. It has great hooks, rock-dance inspired songs, funny samples, multi-vocals. In all great pop tunes, and this time I mean pop tunes. I am no record industry mogul, nor will I ever see big cash rolling in but if Moira Stewart won't be big with their uptempo, quirky electro-rock pop tunes who will? For the ten tracks, thirty-four minutes (how more classic pop-length do you want it), this has put one big smile on my face. (FdW) Address:

COLD READING TRIO - LIFE OF GHOST (CD by Form Function Records)
Form Function Records focuses on experimenting with electro-acoustic improvisation. The CD by the Cold Reading Trio is a clear example of this interest. This trio comes from New York, and is made up by Christian Pincock (laptop computer, valve trombone), John O'Brien (drums, percussion) and Evan Mazunik (accordion, keyboards). John O'Brien studied symphonic music and also jazz drumming with Gerry Hemingway among his teachers. He drummed in many different contexts: afro-cuban music, jazz, orchestral music, etc. With the trio he tries to expand the "sonic possibilities of the traditional drumkit". Evan Mazunik is an accordionplayer who recently got involved with Soundpainting, "a sign language for live composition", that is by developed by Pinnock a.o. From early childhood Christian Pinnock was interested in all kinds of soundmanipulation and that led him into the world or electro-acoustic music. He directs the Brooklyn Soundpainting Orchestra. With the Cold Reading Trio he aims at "capturing material from other players during an improvisation and recombining and modifying that material to create his contribution to the group". You get the picture? Improvisors are in dialogue with what returns from their playing through the live processing by Pinnock, that also comes into being through improvisation. For my ears it is not always traceable what comes from the musicians and is what is echoed by the samplers. And I,m not a listener who is interested in how they did things, but in the music that is created in whatever way. Their improvisations are very open and transparent. They sound more like an ensemble of new music then as jazz trio. The music is very well recorded. They keep a good balance between the acoustic instruments and the electro-acoustic means. All this makes listening to this cd a great pleasure where there is room for every detail. In 'Raven steats the Sun' the drumming by O'Brien is in the forefront. In other pieces like 'The Sybert Commission' or 'Rub-a-dub' the music is centered around the accordion. Improvisations vary in coloring and structure. They don't lose themselves in meaningless technocratic escapades. Far from it. All of them are very disciplined players, and there is definitively beating a heart in this very advanced music. (Dolf Mulder) Address:

I'm not sure what we have here. Its a very hybrid and mixed up cocktail. The genius behind it is Daniel Zelonky, who has some CDs out as Low Res, Crank, a.o. With several members of the Sun Ra Arkestra he gave a live performance of obscure Sun Ra compositions. That is about all I know about him. But listening to this crazy album I learned another thing, it is clear that Zelonky loves the orchestral sound of old latin albums by Perez Prado, etc. Also I had to think of old James Bond-like filmmusic and lots of other exotica from the 60s and 70s. In most of the 11 exotic pieces it is as if a complete orchestra is at work. But probably we are dealing here with cleverly sampled or otherwise 'imagined' orchestras. The grooving compositions he constructed from these old records don't differ very much, I suppose, from the ones on these records and are therefore not extremely original. He didn't transform the original music into some completely new, but he stays close to the original musical idioms. In most pieces Zelonky adds his sax-sounding keyboardplaying. All is done very clever. He successfully assembled his pieces into music that has great unity. The track 'Chalky' is also in a live performance on this disc, played by a 36-piece orchestra, showing convincingly that Zelonky can create his hybrid jazz-funk-latin also on stage. The cd closes with an 'unreleased; Sun Ra composition 'Intergalactic Research'. Considering the amount of records that are out by Sun Ra, it is hard to believe we are dealing here with an unreleased composition as the liner notes tell us. But what does it matter? For it is a funny and very enjoyable cd. (Dolf Mulder)

High hopes for Set In Sand, as this release on Abandon Building is totally fresh and new and already licensed to another label, Hue Records in Japan. They come from the US midwest and combine IDM, hip hop with say Steve Reich in their early days, but now take things a bit further. Rhythms are broken and chopped up, guitars are added, and more importantly samples of all sort of weird origins an vocals. Though the latter are not present in every track, they sound very much like my personal heroes of Sparks, with whom Set In Sound share more than just the vocals. The weird angles from which things are approached (jazz? rock? symphonic rock?), sudden weird moves and of course the falsetto voice, with sings along with itself. It doesn't have the complexity, nor the rock of the latest Sparks albums, and throughout Set In Sound is less complex per track, but they have potential to be more a pop band than a strict electronic band. Personally I prefer the vocal tracks more than the instrumental ones, and I think that should be an area that they should explore more. It's not difficult to see the potential that these clever label bosses also see with this band. Very witty and clever made. (FdW)

Kristofer Ström (great name, if you know it means electricity in german) is man behind Ljudbilden & Piloten and hails from Malmö. He already a split CD before with Osso Bucco (see Vital Weekly 416), but it took him some time to create his real first full length. In the meantime he has recorded music for theatre, dance-theatre, films and toured with David Balula, Domotic, O.Lamm and Dead Texan and made animation films himself. A busy bee. Although he uses a variety of instruments and objects, his main instrument is the guitar. He tinkles nice away, with in the background rhythms compiled from all sorts of sources as glass, an egg slicer and handclap. The ornament comes from the piano and a trumpet every now and then. All of this is created inside the fine, warm place of the computer, making foremost busy music. Even when things are supposed to be mellow and easy, it's music that is really filling up space. Everything is used and Ström uses many layers. Combined with the fact that certainly towards the end of the CD a certain similarity arises in the pieces makes that I think that this CD is a bit too long for what it is. It should have been ten instead of fifteen tracks (which doesn't mean that the last five should be cut off, just a best ten actually) and it would have gained strength. Now it's all a bit too much. Program your CD player and create your favorite list and it'll be a great CD. Nice extensive collage booklet also. (FdW)

Music by Birchville Cat Motel, a.k.a. Campbell Kneale only reaches me very occasionally, so the list of releases mentioned in this booklet certainly impressed me. If ever I want to collect it, I sure have a lot to catch up with, but it might be a worthwhile thing to do. Or so my thoughts were when hearing this release. Like I said, I don't always catch up with Kneale's output, but this new one certainly filled me with pleasure. To make things easy: Birchville Cat Motel plays drone music of a louder kind. One piece here, forty minutes in length. At it's core lies organ drones, that sound like a church organ, carefully layered to create miniature variation. That is the firm foundation of the piece. Somewhere a bass slab sound comes in, and somewhere later, the organ plays a three note melody, all of this while the fundament lies firm. Hold on, there is a cymbal played mechanically too. Or isn't? Such is the music of Birchville Cat Motel. Deceiving. Deceivingly simple from the surface, but complex if you listen carefully. Things aren't what they are, elements are picked out and evolved, altered and put back in the mix. Not 'loud' as in the word 'noise' but forcefully present - the music is 'there', loud and clear. A very refined work of drone meets noise. Play loud and be immersed. (FdW) Address:

The fourth album from this post-punk trio from North Carolina, and their second one for Cuneiform. With three earlier records out they have already have an development behind them. But I can't say anything about it, as this is my first meeting with these guys. What is their music about? Surely they raise the question: how complex can you get, using guitar, bass and drums only. And this trio gives you an impressive answer. Starting from an punk attitude they underwent undeniably the influence of Captain Beefheart. This places them in the tradition of earlier punk orientated bands who made efforts to incorporate Beefheart's madness. Think of bands like Minutemen, Big Flame or Stump. But we are in 2008 now and Ahleuchatistas is their name. An instrumental trio of Derek Poteat (bass), Shane Perlowin (guitar) and Sean Dail (drums). Very dedicated, they maintain the same high level of concentration and intensity from start to the end, also in their slower songs. All three turn out to be virtuoso musicians, but their craftmanship functions as a means to an end, and not as a goal in itself . They don't trade in acrobatics, these musicians have something to tell us. From the artwork one could conclude that their are politically interested. Back to the music. One could ask what is interesting rockmusic nowadays? To be honest, I don't know. Is it dead, or is it above all a silly question? You tell me. The great days of rockmusic where somewhere in the previous century. But with Ahleuchatistas and related bands we have something really interesting going on. As said they keep a punk mentality, but it is not forbidden to be capable to play an instrument now. Also it is allowed now that one piece differs considerably from the other. Also it not forbidden to have musical ideas, and put as many of them as you can in one song. All this is the case for Ahleuchatistas in their down to earth way, using no unnecessary make up. I have the feeling that the way they sound on this cd comes close to their live sound. What you hear is what get. Just a few overdubs and some other manipulations, like the backwards playing of tapes in the last track. But that's it. Some of the compositions are very convincing, others however are not that interesting. This is the weak spot of this trio I think. But that is all in the game when you are seeking for new territory as this band is doing. "Swimming Underwater with a Cat on Your Back" is an overwhelming and very rich piece. With very tight playing. Changing of rhythms and color. In a piece like the intimate "The Bears of Cantabria Shall Sleep No More" they try improvise a ballad like piece. The twangy guitarplaying we hear in most of the songs sets them apart from their colder math rock-brothers. They love changes. Changes in dynamics, rhythm, mood, etc. Making it an adventurous listening experience. Definitively a band to watch! (Dolf Mulder)

LECANORA - IMMUNITY (CD by Kokeshidisk)
Kokeshidisk is mainly concerned with releasing golden oldies and perhaps Lecanora is one such goldie from yesteryear, but I don't believe I heard of them. Maybe I did - it's not always easy to keep up. It's a solo project from the label boss at hand here, Cyril Herry, who was also a member of Exotoendo, a trio who recorded their music is abandoned tanks. All of this material, released as well as unreleased became the prime source for Herry's solo project. The sounds are re-treated - more reverb in a lot of instances, some delay, layered on top of each other or cut short to make small loops. Bell like sounds, the noise of debris falling on the floor and other spooky detailed music. Maybe a bit too uniform in approach for my taste as many of the pieces do have a tendency to sound alike, but for those who love Lustmord, Rapoon or even Troum (in a more rhythm induced moment), may find this a pleasure to hear.
The vastly growing empire of Taalem: an endless line of 3" CDR, a bit like the other endless line of 7"s on Drone, and covering many similar names and music. The first new one is by Jgrzinich, who has been active in the field of recordings for more than a decade now. These days he is in southeast Estonia, where collects his field recordings, along with rusty metal wires, a wind harp and such like. 'Ferric' is one piece of alternating drone music and back in the shack rusty metal shields, carefully swung together. Highly atmospheric, slowly in decay towards the end.
More field recordings can be found on the release by Hum, also known as Dmitry Christov from Russia, or perhaps his other aliases, such Sphogha, Maw, Mikosterion or Small Town Zombie, all of which I never heard. Hum had releases on Mysery Sea and Drone. There you are. Here he has three untitled piece of slow enveloping ambient/drone music. A bit of field recordings is set against some obscure electronics, which are hard to pin down. Synths? Computer process? Can't tell really. It's a nice lo-fi affair this one, not high and mighty on the recording side, but full of raw intent.
Ben Fleury-steiner is best known for the releases he produced on his own Gears Of Sand label, sometimes as Paradin or Light Of Shipwreck. He too evolves dabbles around with drones and field recordings, more the first than the latter. Unlike Hum, Fleury-steiner operates with synths of processed ambient guitars, which are layered on top of eachother, and make rather spatial forms. More open than the somewhat claustrophobic Hum. A pity that both pieces are too similar however, the second is an extended remixed version of the first. (FdW)

Releases by Sietse van Erve's project Orphax mainly found their way through MP3 releases, and a handful on CDR. 'Drowning In A Pool Of Trees' is his latest, private release and based on a concert recording he made in October 2007, which he later edited into this release. Apparently it uses field recordings, voice, electronics and a melodica sample. Orphax stretched the sample out to a twenty minute piece of ambient drones, however slightly distorted and on top there is the crackle of contact microphones scratching the surface. It's hard to tell where the voice comes in or goes out. Bird twitter is also there. It builds up to a climax and takes it down again, all done with elegance. Nothing spectacular, nothing innovative, but executed with style and eye for detail. Nice one. (FdW) ddress:

COLOSSUS - THRONE (Cassette by Heavy Nature Tapes)
SUBURBIA MELTING/MOTHKULT (Cassette by Heavy Nature Tapes)
MYSTIFIED - UNCANNY (Cassette by Heavy Nature Tapes)
It's always good to see that there are still people keep releasing cassettes. Ages ago my preferred format, and perhaps still something I like. Heavy Nature Tapes first releases are all American bands. Colossus is one Ryan Laliberty who recorded five pieces on his 'Throne' release. Music from the deep end of ambient low bass crossing in the world of noise. It's hard to tell which sound sources are at use here. Maybe a bass, some voice, some electronics and lots of EQ going down. There is a nice lo-fi rumble going on here, which is unclear if it comes from the recording or the medium it is reproduced on.
Suburbia Melting is Andrew Quitter from Portland, Oregon and he puts on some heavy noise. Feedback and distortion tucked in a bed of drones that seem to be recorded of an engine. Not so much my thingy. On the other side we find Ryan Laliberty again, here in disguise as Mothkult. It's easy to see why he choose a new name, since Mothkult deals more with the noise end of things, although his deep bass rumble is still present. Better than Suburbia Melting I thought, since it had more variation, but his Colossus tape sounded better.
Mystified is a name that popped up before in these pages with their curious mix of low resolution samples and electronics. Sometimes they play a more rhythmic card - although not enough in my opinion - and sometimes moody textured music. Here the latter plays the main role. The tracks are alright, nothing new here for Mystified, although a bit more variation would have been nice. (FdW)

The complete Vital Weekly is available at: Vital Weekly

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