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Vital Weekly 617

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CARLOS GIFFONI - ETERNAL NOISE (CD by Bottrop-boy)
NEW HUMANS/VITO ACCONCI/C. SPENCER YEH (CD by Semishigure)
For reasons that in hindsight are no longer clear I turned down the volume a bit when I started playing this new CD by Carlos Giffoni, expecting some full power noise blast. Things aren't quiet either here, but altogether it's not what I expected and I was rather pleasantly surprised. In four lengthy cuts Giffoni explores the outer limits of noise drone. Cluster like tones (not as in the band but in the musical sense) of what may be an organ, or an oscillator, or some pedals on the floor, are recorded with great power and played what seems to be eternal. Which, besides my amazement that something like this comes from the house of Giffoni, is also my problem with the CD. It's great, but each of the four pieces are a bit too long for what they have to offer for the listener.
On Bottrop-boy's art imprint Semishigure a disc from New Humans, which a duo of Howie Chen (electronics, vocals) and Mika Tajima (guitar). The latter is also a visual artist and the duo plays at her art show openings. Here two pieces that played the Elizabeth Dee Gallery in New York in 2007 with C. Spencer Yeh on violin and Vito Acconci on voice. The latter the art-initiated may recognize from his famous 'Seedbed' art piece and other works involving his body and (sexual) fantasies. He recites some texts on the first piece on this CD, which I found quite hard to follow through. The musicians deliver in both pieces a whole of sound type of rock noise, or noise rock, which ever way you prefer to look at such matters. In 'Double Negative' (the piece without Acconci), there is the addition of Eric Tsai on drums, although his drumming as such is hardly to recognized. Speaking purely in terms of music, I though this was the better piece of the two, while the other one may appeal more to art-heads. Nice, but not entirely convincing. (FdW) Address: http://www.bottrop-boy.com

ANDO - HABITAT (CD by Bine Music)
Play this CD by Ando to any Taylor Deupree fan and he or she might say: yeah, so why are you playing this to me? I am pretty sure Deupree has many fans who are hardly familiar with his minimalist techno music. It's been a while, I guess, since he last worked in this area. In fact the only one from the new millennium which springs to mind are his two 12" inch records for Audio.NL. As Ando he returns to this style, and it's a taster for a forthcoming album. Four pieces here, which started life in 2004, but were completed last year, of minimalist beats and minimalist electronics. Bine Music is distributed by Kompakt, and that should give those who are keen on anything rhythmic and minimal, a clue as to what to expect here. Four straight forward slabs of of minimal techno, quite groovy - going back to the early days of his career, and which no doubt would do well on the dance floor. Which makes me wonder why Bine Music released this on a CD? Quite fun and with four pieces right on the spot. (FdW) Address: http://www.binemusic.de

SCHLAMMPEITZIGER - SCHWINGSTELLE FUR RAUSCHABZUG (CD by Sonig)
For whatever reason I never kept up that well with the works of Schlammpeitziger, the work of Jo Zimmermann from Cologne. I am sure there is no good reason or excuse from my side for this. And now I am listening to 'Schwingstelle Fur Rauschabzug' (my german is too limited to make a proper translation), thinking that it's quite nice and that I should have done more trouble keeping up. Having said that, Schlammpeitziger doesn't make life easy for the listener. It's not that he produces difficult music, not at all actually. It's the hyper active part that becomes, at times, a bit problematic. Zimmermann's music operates on various levels at the same time: a jumpy bass line or two, various layers of keyboards playing both riffs and melodies, complicated yet danceable beats and lots of small sounds to top things off; if that was really necessary, which it isn't. Even if you don't dance at all, it's hard to sit still to this music and just listen. Your feet, head or hands will start to move along. In that respect it's quite tiring music to hear. Schlammpeitziger is a ADHD kid on speed. He has a great sense of playing the naive musician card, but that's only a clever play: it's a play, it's not the real Zimmermann. I hope at least. It's great music to dance to, even if you don't like dancing. It's a bit much to take in all at once, unless you are dancing around (which is a bit hard if you sit down to write a review). A jolly fine work, this one, putting a big smile on my face. Time to find out what I missed in this career. (FdW) Address: http://www.sonig.com

ALEX MEIN SMITH - NECESSITY'S FLAME (CD by High Tensile)
Sometimes things get a bit clouded: when I read Alex Mein Smith is from New Zealand and that he played with Birchville Cat Motel, Peter Wright and Anthony Milton, I thought I was ready for some lo-fi guitar/electronics/field recording drone type o'music. But Smith moved to London played in all the clubs and does something entirely different. His music is always built around driving rhythms, fast, fat, mechanical, but more rock than techno. Below, just above the surface, he puts a carpet of electronics, creepy, haunting and sometimes uplifting. Quite a nice move I think, but the album left me a bit alienated. Like a cold shower - it never grabbed the me as a listener. Distant and remote. The sound of the big city at night. Many lights, but is there is anybody in there? I am not entirely convinced - yet - by this set of forceful beat material, but if he adds a bit of personality to the mix, it certainly has a great future. (FdW) Address: http://www.alexmeinsmith.com

NONOTES - MODE (CD by Motok)
In the second Vital Weekly of this year we reviewed an online sampler, released by Motok. All works on the sampler had involved, one way or the other, Nico Selen, who started as O.R.D.U.C. in 1980 with a track for a Plurex Records, then a LP on his own New Bulwark label and consequently used various names and for each name he had a distinctive sound. His LP from 1980 is still available and thanks to the current revival of synthesizer/electro music, it's still bought and has brought Selen enough money to release a CD as No Notes together with Martin Selen, I believe his son, as the CD 'Mode' is 'dedicated to our (grand) father'. The (grand) father worked as a cabinetmaker and Nico Selen loved the industrial hammering of the machines in the workshop. It's the inspiration for this CD. Nonotes is the band and as such they don't play any notes. Despite the inspiration from machinery it's not an industrial work in say the Throbbing Gristle or Vivenza sense. Nonotes switch on their analogue synthesizers and start switching knobs to create a dark, sometimes unsettling, form of ambient music. At times loud and angular with, in a few pieces, some rusty blocks of rhythm, this is what Conrad Schnitzler would describe as 'non-keyboard electronics'. Put together in various layers, this is more mood music than the factual representation of life in the factory. It's quite nice, certainly when played at a somewhat louder volume. It has no relationship to the previous more pop encounters of Selen as O.R.D.U.C. or The Bearcage and I must say this side of Selen is much more to my personal liking. A great come back album. (FdW) Address: http://www.motok.org/

ERIK LEVANDER - KONDENS (CD by Rumraket)
Shortly after I popped in this CD, I wanted to switch it off again. Maybe my mood wasn't in for melodic type of glitch music, but I continued until the very end. I took it out, thought nothing of it, and the next day I played it again. Still my first thought was micro glitch, ambient glitch, but for whatever reason the volume was up more than the day before, and actually I was thinking when the CD was over: that was a strange mixture of sounds. This is Levander's second CD, following 'Tonad' (see Vital Weekly 455), in which he shows again to have been a keen listener to Oval, also when things here can get pretty noisy. It makes the album a more varied bunch but the variation is more towards the last five pieces and not in the first four pieces. Altogether it's not something utterly new or innovative, but I must admit that Levander does a pretty good. A fine mixture of pop like structures, shoe gazing microsound (think Tilliander here), minimalist structures and abstract electronic processing. A very fine album. (FdW)
Address: http://www.rumraket.com

ELEKTRICITEIT = ONZE HOBBY - DIODENEILAND (3"CDR by Audio Office Records)
KOMMBAT/KASPER VAN HOEK - COLOGNE/GRONINGEN (CDR by Audio Office Records)
Behind Elektriciteit = Onze Hobby (our hobby is electricity, well you might have guessed that translation) are a bunch of people I never heard of: Steven Jouwersma, Feiko Beckers, Rik Mohlmann, Bart Nijstad and Gijs Deddens, who got together one day with the modified children toys and a bunch of effects. They recorded some ninety minutes of music, which they gave to the fellow city man (Groningen, The Netherlands) Kasper van Hoek who edited this into the various pieces now on this 3"CDR. Now him we know. Recently presented his best release so far, but here he does a nice job too. It's not easy to which extend he edited the material, or effectively re-composed the material he was given, but he certainly cut and pasted the right pieces together to make a listenable chunks (short chunks actually) of rhythmic noise, bleepy electronics and certainly non-dance beats. Quite nice.
The same Van Hoek worked together with one Marco Medkour, also known as Kommbat and who also works as Akustik Film and Organo Flex, and runs the rec72 netlabel, who is from Cologne. Each of them delivers a track based on field recordings from their own city and a remix of the other's city. It's a short release, of which I don't understand why it wasn't put on a 3" either with such a nice box as the previous one. Medkour's sound picture of Cologne passes without too much notion, and his remix of Groningen is nice, but hardly a remix: he sets forward some beat material and mixes in the street recordings. Van Hoek on the other side picks some sounds and makes short loops and creates his own industrial rhythm from these sound material at hand. Quite nice, but perhaps a bit long. His solo field recording amplifies the hiss aspect of the recording. Good but as great his last offering on Dirty Demos. (FdW)
Address: http://www.audiooffice.nl

ROEL MEELKOP - REAL MASS (3"CDR by Lona Records)
Not known as a man of many words, at least not on his releases, is Roel Meelkop, so it's a bit of a surprise to see on the cover this somewhat cryptic message: 'Dedicated to the darker sides of life (for once)'. A dark cloud over the head of Meelkop? Not on the cover, but on the phone, he told me that he uses for his 'Real Mass' piece the voices of Antonin Artaud and Aleister Crowley - an unusual open Meelkop revealing his sources. I listened again, but with different knowledge to this piece. Yes, indeed that seem to be voices. Voices from the past, preserved on scratchy sound carriers. No doubt all of which Meelkop loves his hands on. He emphasis the hiss, slows down the voices and creates a true Meelkopian piece of music. His trademark - rapid changes, decaying until the very end, breaking up with something entirely new - is present here, but it all sounds a bit more roughly shaped than before. No doubt a deliberate move on his side, perhaps to emphasize the darker sides of life. A solid work, dark of nature and a true small delight to hear. (FdW) Address: http://www.lona-records.com

The complete Vital Weekly is available at: Vital Weekly

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