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Vital Weekly 616

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STEAMBOAT SWITZERLAND - ZONE 2 (CD by Grob)
In the typical unsensatonatial cover art style of Grob, this label released the fifth CD from this swiss combo. You never know with what they come up with, as this is as very uncompromising undertaking. This time this trio choose for acoustic instruments with little amplification. Marion Pliakas plays acoustic guitar, Lucas Niggli a reduced drum set and Dominik Blum plays piano. 'Zone 2' contains one 45 minutes long improvisation. In a 'stream of consciousness'- like manner this music pulsates through your ears and brain. They sound far from a conventional piano-guitar-drums trio. All three instruments are equally and continuously intertwined in this tour de force. That is to say, more or less, as sometimes the guitar is on the forefront or the piano. Also there is an alternation of more introspective and exuberant parts. In the first 25 minutes of this piece they play in a very hammering and cacaphonic way. But after that the climate changes for a more abstract kind of soundscaping and the music becomes more quiet, preparing itself for a final loud outburst in the last minutes of this journey. Although the music is not engaging in each of its 45 minutes, throughout this is a very captivating work that will grab you. (Dolf Mulder) Address: http://www.churchofgrob.com/

CARL STONE - WOO LAE OAK (CD by Unseen Worlds)
LUBOMYR MELNYK - KMH (CD by Unseen Worlds)
Without wanting to sound rude, but in my view Carl Stone was just there one day. The first solo thing reviewed in Vital Weekly was late in the day, his 'Nak Won' in Vital Weekly 367. But I knew his name, saw his releases before, but I couldn't possible put 'history' to the man. Until now. 'Woo Lae Oak' was his first record, released in 1983 by Joan Le Barbara's Wizard Records. A long record, clocking in at fifty-four minutes, so it's good to see a CD release of it, to fully enjoy the one piece quality. Simple things are not always good things, but in this case: wow. Stone produced two kind of sounds: the rubbing of string to create a tremolo effect and blowing air into a bottle - two sounds that no doubt many of us made themselves. But we didn't create tape-loops out of it, made layers, changed the speed and no filtering was applied (by Stone). Classic tape techniques, some of them now forgotten in the world of computers. Over the course of fifty-four minutes he creates a sonic delicacy - minimal to the bare bone, but with lots of subtle changes to alter the material. One never has the idea that things are boring to be heard. It's a fascinating piece of music. A bit crude in the mix, with volume dropping every now and then, but that rawness adds, for me at least, to the quality of the work.
Also on Unseen Worlds, apparently a label for re-issues a record from 1978 by one Lubomyr Melnyk from Poland. He plays 'piano music in the continuous mode', quite fast actually, which sound like more piano's than just one. The booklet reads of inspired by Steve Reich, Philip Glass and Terry Riley, which perhaps is true, but I see another link, more clearly: This work is more alike Dutch composer Simeon ten Holt - I don't know how much fame he has abroad, but his piano pieces that last easily a couple of hours, is quite close to the music of Melnyk. Repeating patterns with minimal changes, but without the sustain that is put in by his American counterparts. Overtones as such don't seem to be playing a big role here and it's more about a continuous melodic play. Rhythmic in varying degrees, the piece is a subtle work, and even if only a detail from some of the works of Ten Holt, it's of an absolute beauty. Two great discoveries from the minimal music history. I wonder what Unseen Worlds come up next. (FdW)
Address: http://www.unseenworlds.net

ARCANE DEVICE - DEVICES 1987-2007 (2CD by Monochrome Vision)
GEN KEN MONTGOMERY - DRILLING HOLES IN THE WALL (CD by Monochrome Vision)
PACIFIC 231 & VOX POPULI! - CTHULHU REVISITED (CD by Monochrome Vision)
NIKITA GOLYSHEV - SOLARIS (CD by Monochrome Vision)
The covers of Monochrome Vision are always black and white. Perhaps to reflect that the label has a primary interest in 'old' music by 'old guys' (no girls yet, I believe)? They release their music in various batches, and this (plus one to come later, for obvious reasons) always comes with the introduction of a younger artist from Russia. I might be wrong, but the oldest guy here is David Lee Myers, also known in the mid eighties as Arcane Device and one of my heroes of the time. Myers created his own feedback machines long before someone thought of 'no input mixers'. Myers controlled his feedback with all sorts of sound effects, which made him sound differently than say the average industrial musician. No wonder his first release was on Recommended/ReR records, known for improvisation rather than noise. In the time span of less than eight years Arcane Device released a bunch of CDs, a LP, a double 7" pack and some cassettes (many of them these days available from http://www.pulsewidth.com). For Monochrome Vision, Myers went to his archive to pick some rare (from various compilations on Subterranean Records, Tragic Figures, SFCR and Generations Unlimited) and unreleased for his double CD. I admit straight away that it has been a while since I last played a CD by Arcane Device, but hearing this feast of recognition, prompts me to pull them all out and play them again in the next weeks, when time allows me. The strength of Arcane Device, to work with such unmusical sounds in such a musical form, hasn't lost any of his magic to me. Unlike say the current wave of no input mixers, who like to be microsound, minimal or overtly harsh, but nothing musical, I only know of one equivalent to Myers and that's Marco Ciciliani, who I once saw play a no input mixer in such a musical manner. Great stuff!
Also the Gen Ken Montgomery release deals with 'old' music, and is partly released, partly unreleased. It deals with a period of Gen's career in which he was heavily involved with Conrad Schnitzler, not say 'inspired'. The first three tracks (one and two released before, on cassette and on LP by Discos Esplendor Geometrico) are alike Schnitzler's cassette concerts: multiple cassettes with stripped down synthesizer sounds are mixed in concert together. Gen Ken used a 'modified' Casio MS-10 for this and perhaps, I am not sure, some sound effects. Schnitzler's non keyboard electronics influence is quite apparent on those, even when Gen Ken plays a much louder and more industrial version thereof. These three works are kind long, but sound very much like music of the time. The final two pieces are shorter in length and consist of yet another version of 'Icebreaker' (also released by Staalplaat as a 3"CD at one point) and is more installation like music and a live piece from 1986 made in the DDR of a cassette concert, which sound more melodic than the opening pieces and even has vocals. A fine release, not with the complete power of Arcane Device, but a pretty strong work of its day.
The least interesting from this lot is the release by Pacific 231 and Vox Populi!, a solo and a duo act from France, who recorded some work together in the 80s, partly released by German's Cthulhu Records. I hasten to add: the least interesting for me. The pseudo ritual sound that they have wasn't my favorite in those days and by today's private standard it's still not my cup of tea. Psychedelic like synth patterns, the low resolution sampling of rhythm and the wordless chanting and singing: it all sounds pretty dated and worn out.
The russian component of this lot comes from Nikita Golyshev, who has been working since 2003 as one half of CDR, in various fields of experimental music - ranging from rhythmic work to noise and drones. 'Solaris' is his debut solo CD and it's hard not to see this as a soundtrack to the Tarkovsky movie, even when there is no such reference on the cover. The music spread out over two pieces of around thirty minutes could have been alternative soundtracks to that movie. Golyshev's plays some interesting under water and under world like drone music of a great kind. Golyshev keeps things minimal but too such an extent that changes appear at the right moment - the true power of drone music, I guess. Don't be a bore, don't let changes come to quickly, everything on the right moment. This version of 'Solaris' is great and surely the name Golyshev is worth keeping an ear open for. (FdW)
Address: http://www.monochromevision.ru

ROBERT VAN HEUMEN - FURY (CD by Creative Sources Recordings)
'Fury' is the first real CD by Robert van Heumen, a name that may not ring an immediate bell (perhaps, who knows), but who is an active driving force in the Dutch improvised electronic music. He's active with such bands/collectives/projects as OfficeR, Skif++, RKS, Shackle and founding member of N Collective, if not organizing events for Steim in Amsterdam. His primary instrument is the laptop running software like LiSa (live sampling) and SuperCollider, sampling everyday sounds and making them sound like anything but everyday sounds. On his debut CD he has two pieces. The four part work 'Fury (After Anger)' and 'They Would Get Angry Sometimes'. The first uses texts about 'Dust Bowl migrants living in Farm Security Administration camps in central California (1940-1941). Many Americans fled the Great Plains looking for work and a better economical and ecological environment". The texts however do not play a big part in the composition. There is a bit of guitar like sound to be spotted (self-played? taken from the original recordings), and a bit of text, but throughout the title piece is a racket of noise tumbling through the bits and bytes of the computer - but beware it's not noise in the traditional sense of the word. It's dynamic, ever changing, crackling, loud and soft, buzzing and hissing. Even without being able to understand the text, which doesn't seem to be absolutely necessary, this is a very nice piece, shifting back and forth between abstract sound and more melodic passages. The second piece uses some similar sounds but is altogether a strict abstract piece of music of an even harsher quality type of noise. Vibrant music this is, great music - moving away from the delicate structures of microsound into the land of noise based textures. More Mego than micro. Great start! (FdW) Address: http://www.creativesources.com

BRUNO CHEVILLON - HORS CHAMPS (CD by D'Autres Cordes)
SAMUEL SIGHICELLI - MAREE NOIRE (CD by D'Autres Cordes)
A 'doublebassist' is one Bruno Chevillon, but no doubt there is more going on his 'Hors Champs' (which translates as 'off-screen'). His music here is inspired by Heiner Muller's theatre, which I don't know, but I can form some opinion on what that would be like. Heavy is probably the word that describes it best, since whatever Chevillon is doing to his double bass, is not what his teacher told him. It's powerful, almost like old school industrial music, but played in an improvised manner. To his double bass playing, Chevillon adds a bunch of nasty electronics and heavy drum machine playing, all underpinning the action, the aggression and the necessity of playing this music. Forceful music that is what becomes of this. While generated through methods of improvisation, no doubt, this is also the work of multi-layering the various sounds and provide some great tension in these pieces. AGF provides some guest vocals, but that's the probably the only point of quietness around here. Heavy duty music, industrial rock like if you will, improvised industrial if you must, this is another heavy journey, this week (following Maor Appelbaum's CD).
On the same label, and also unknown to me is Samuel Sighicelli (1972), who studied the piano and composition, as well as being an improviser and film maker. A man of many talents. His CD translates as 'oil spill' and one composition in six parts. I moaned about the state of serious electro-acoustic music, when reviewing (or not) the releases by Empreintes Digitales, but this actually is quite exciting music. An example of how things can also be. Sighicelli uses field recordings of airports, the sea, but also piano, organ, synthesizer, the bass playing of Chevillon and objects of metal, wood etc, which he collated together in a clever play of electro acoustic sound, in which it's not about all the software he could find but rather about the overall composition he could create with these various sound sources. As such we can recognize some of the original sound used, but throughout the abstract sound works in quite a cinematic manner. Certainly not as harsh as the Chevillon work, but with a likewise great impact. (FdW)
Address: http://www.digitruc.com

BULLOCK & COLEMAN & GROSS & RODEN - UNTITLED, OR NOT YET (CD by 1pt8 Records)
It has been quiet from the side of Steve Roden, or perhaps some of his recent releases come in such small editions, that they are, unfortunately, not always easy to follow. Two of his recent releases are CDRs only, in small editions, such as 'Vester Fields', a charming work for various sounds including an accordion, a record player, voice, violin, field recordings and even plants or 'A Christmas Play Joseph Cornell', which is more like a season release (not this season) with an old christmas record, a vietnamese string instrument and more field recordings. Both works are the Roden we appreciate and know so well: delicate sound textures, slow movements, layered yet spacey. However the work we are dealing here with today, is the Roden that is also delicate, but also a side of Roden we don't know very well: that of an improviser, together with the more well-known players from the scene, such as Micheal Bullock (contrabass), James Coleman (theremin) and David Gross (alto saxophone), while Roden plays objects, electronics and voice. This is the sort of improvisation that I really like. The careful examination of the instruments, their qualities in what they have to offer as both an instrument as well as an object. The delicate but loose structure, the waving of electronic tones along with the apparently random tones of the 'real' instruments. Four people listening to what the others are doing, carefully, thoughtfully. As said, it's not a side of Roden we know very well, but it's certainly something he should be doing more. (FdW)
Address: http://www.1pt8.com

EX-P - CARPACCIO ESISTENZIALE (CD by Fratto9)
EX-P - ANCORA SAIGON (CD by Fratto9)
A few weeks ago I reviewed cds from the italian Fratto9 label. Two cds from the Can-inspired bands Tanake and I/O. This time two cds from EX-P. This trio has Alessanddro Allera on bass and voice, Andrea Chiuni also on bass, clarinet and voice, plus Diego Rosso on drums.
Their first one 'Ancora Siagon' was recorded in 2004, 'Carpaccio Esistenziale' in december 2006. On both albums they have little assistance from other players in some of the tracks.
Their is a typical italian touch on their music, that reminded me of other experimental italian bands from the 70s and 80s: early Franco Battiato, Stormy Six, La1919, etc. Also it would not surprise me, if they are fans of Hugh Hopper and Canterbury music. Influences of folk music can also be traced in the melodic lines they chose. Altogether an interesting band that makes use of many different sources for their musical ideas. Evidently their music has its roots in rock, but they leave many of the rock-conventions behind for their version of avant rock-like music. They are interested in creating structure and style. Chaotic outbursts of noise and pure energy are not there thing. They are more into subtlety. Controlled and disciplined they form their pieces. The bassplayers extract nice, multicolored sounds from their instruments, without using much extended techniques. It is surprising how they create such a diverse and rich spectrum of sounds with this small line up. Happily their records are not overproduced, so the recordings breath a low-fi atmosphere. Also they know when to stop. So there is no endless repetition of the same ideas. On the other hand, because of this some of the tracks on "Carpaccio Esistenziale' deserved to be more worked out. I found both albums equally satisfying and very tasty. (Dolf Mulder)
Address: http://www.fratto9/

R.Y.N. - ASTRAL DEATH (CD by Unrest Productions)
The information on this CD is sparse, but alright, everything is there. The band name, the title(s), the label's website, so what's more is there to know. RYN are a 'UK drone-duo' whose 'Astral Death' is the first CD. Six long tracks of 'slowly shifting massive drones', but this beast moves very slow, in my opinion. The drones here are engine like, certainly if you put your ears towards the engine. If you think an engine is annoying - stop reading. If you can be fascinated by that, then R.Y.N. is no doubt a good place to start if you want something like an engine, but in musical terms. They play guitars, I assume, and loads of effects (or perhaps loads of effects) and imitate the engine like sounds. Massive indeed, slow indeed but, as said, too slow. The variations between the first three pieces and the sixth piece is rather minimal too, so one has the idea to be listening to three times the same track. Two of these, plus the fourth and the fifth track, would make a much stronger point because it would carry some variation while proving there is variation at all possible with this kind of music (which some people would doubt). Now it's not a bad CD either, but not entirely strong either. A good solid (massively solid, as a rock) heavy drone work. (FdW)
Address: http://www.unrestprod.com

SONIC SYSTEMS LABORATORIES (CD by Split Records)
The romantic fool that I sometimes am likes 'soft' percussion instruments, such as xylophone, marimba, vibraphone and such like and of course you know I like drone music. These two can be combined, even when it's not done a lot. Behind Sonic Systems Laboratory we find two vibraphone players, Robbie Avenaim and Dale Gorfinkel, who have been playing together since 2005. Last year they recorded this disc together. Actually if you wouldn't know it was made with two vibraphones, you would have a hard time telling so. Only after some twenty minutes you hear something that sounds like vibraphone, being played fast. In the first part (or actually two parts), the vibraphone is played with powered rotating disks, creating a dense layered field of rhythm. Only towards the very end of the work, we hear, soft, the 'real' vibraphone. This work, no doubt the product of two improvising minds, sound like nothing improvised. Rather it sounds like a well planned, composed work, exactly scored and executed. I think it's a great work, refined, well executed and should appeal to basically anyone reading Vital Weekly: drone lovers, musique concrete lovers and improv heads. (FdW) Address: http://www.splitrec.com

TOM RECCHION - THE INCANDESCENT GRAMOPHONE (78 rpm 10 inch by Poo bah records)
How soon we forget. Today's most popular format for the youth to store their music (the mp3) is only one in a long series of various formats, all of them popular in their day, most of them forgotten today. The earliest available method of recording sound for later playback purposes was the wax roll. However, wax rolls were ultra fragile and could be played only a limited amount of times. It wasn't until the invention of the shellac gramophone by Thomas Edison in 1887 that a format was found that could test time. For the first time, sound could be recorded and played back without significant loss of quality. Even though it is often forgotten, every sound imaginable has been recorded (and released) on shellac. There is an enormous wealth of recorded sound out there on shellac to be discovered. Vinyl was a definite improvement on durability (as shellac tended to break easily) plus more sound could be featured on a single vinyl disk (up to 20 minutes per side). Nowadays, both formats seem to have been made obsolete by the advent of the digital age. It is interesting to note that people are willing to pay money for a virtual product that has a lower soundquality than their more tactile brothers. There's marketing for you! Anyways, this is not a rant against mp3-marketing, but one in favor of the shellac disc. The format (a 10 inch that rotates at 78 rounds per minute) is one not often found in experimental music. In 1991 we (Beequeen) released a 78 rpm flexidisc, which was fun to do as not to many people were able to play it at the correct speed. Here we have a 10 inch by Los Angeles Free Music Society artist Tom Recchion. In the past he collaborated with the Doo-Doettes, Airway, Oren Ambarchi and John Duncan. "The Incandenscent Gramophone" consists of two songs, both to be played back at 78 rpm (thus forcing the listener to find a gramophone player that facilitates 78 rpm). The two songs were constructed using clicks, cracks and scratches, samples of previous 78 rpm recordings and, slightly inconsistent with the theme, also mp3 files. The results are impressive. Side one features the song The Incandescent (glowing) Gramophone, which consists of looped fragments of 78 discs. These loops sound like the basic grooves of the disc (so without any actual music). With some additional treatment by Recchion they sound like a giant beast munching records, which gets noisier towards the end of the song. Quite nice. Even better is the second side of the disc The Song Of Mr. Phonograph, which to me sounds like an outer space spiritual deep blues song. This is basically due to the slowed down incomprehensible singing (which sounds like negro workers singing in the cotton fields). Add to this a continuous beep and you have a wonderful song. A very special project this! Nice detail is that of the 500 copies pressed, 100 will be left anonymously in public places throughout Pasadena. As such, in their archaic format, they are as mysterious and out of place as the sounds they hold. A wonderful item, well worth searching out for the player for. (Freek Kinkelaar)
Address: http://www.poobah.com

KAPOTTE MUZIEK - ENHANCED ROOM ACOUSTICS (CDR by Lunhare)
Tracks one and three was a cassette release by Kapotte Muziek from 1996, the middle track (a bridge) was produced by processing these using software by Freiband in 2007. I've noticed a trend lately in re-releasing cassette material on its replacement - CDr with varying degrees of success. Here is a doubling of the process of processing and re-processing- the bridge provides both difficult and interesting listening being micro-sound - very low pitch as if the two outer works - which are themselves processed acoustics but noisier (especially in the second) have cancelled each other out - almost... In fact at first on speakers near inaudible on headphones a variety of interesting features appear. Like looking at water in a jar - seemingly clear and empty but once under a microscope teaming and pulsating with creatures. It is not so much a bridge then but a synthesis of the two more obvious industrial noise works which become in contrast strangely evocative of a century which we have left- a century which was obvious, more certain even about its paranoia into this strange century where understanding, listening, seeing, thinking, has now become problematic. We have lived in a century from which and into, a century, in which we all will die- what a strange thought this CDr has provoked. (jliat) Address: http://www.lunhare.net

The complete Vital Weekly is available at: Vital Weekly

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