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Vital Weekly 618

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MACHINEFABRIEK - MORT AUX VACHES (CD by Staalplaat)
MAHMOUD REFAT - MORT AUX VACHES (CD by Staalplaat)
It's been awhile since we last heard from Staalplaat as a label and the two releases that are now 'new' in the Mort Aux Vaches series, are in fact recorded some time ago. The Refat one in 2006 and Machinefabriek is a bit hard to tell. The cover is made with stamps but on my copy it's a bit hard to read. But it's also been on the shelf for some time, which in the case of Machinefabriek is a bummer. Rutger Zuydervelt released so much music in the past three years that we got a pretty clear idea about how he developed in that period, but it's a bit hard to say where his Mort Aux Vaches will fit in. We hear him play guitar, more than he does these days, but throughout his carefully created atmospheric music is already present here. It moves away from the previous released live recording in that sense that they are less noise based and forecasts his recent music. However things are less complex around here, and works on a more straight forward level. The emphasis lies on the guitar, which shows Zuydervelt here to be a good student of Oren Ambarchi, with perhaps a bit more effects at his disposal. Minimal, atmospheric: it's all there yet not as refined as in much of his later work.
Mahmoud Refat is from Egypt, who previously released on Leerraum. He's not a player of traditional instruments, but is a 'normal' (??) artist with sound installations, field recordings - following a career in funk/acid jazz/experimental music. I must say I had no expectations whatsoever. I can't say I'm disappointed. The whole notion that it should be ethnic (inspired) is of course bull shit. It proofs that whatever we call microsound (for the lack of any better term) is much more a global thing that we knew. Refat plays laptop music, using sounds of whatever field nearby or far away, but he adds low humming beats - think Ikeda or Noto but on a much more subdued level - which work well as a creepy undercurrent for the music. The rhythmical notion he puts on makes this perhaps more clicks 'n cuts (for the lack of any better term) than plain microsound, but the addition of field recordings is certainly a refreshing look on the subject matter. Meelkop meets Noto, Chartier meet Pan Sonic - if you catch my fantasy running wild on the subject. For me an entirely new artist, but certainly someone to watch for the future. (FdW) Address: http://www.staalplaat.com

DUCHESS SAYS - ANTHOLOGIE DES 3 PERCHOIRS (CD by Alien8 Recordings)
No information along this one, so I must assume that Duchess Says is the bandname and 'Anthologie Des 3 Perchoirs' is the title, that there thirteen tracks and that it is released by Alien8 Recordings. Which is good, since it leaves something to guess. My guess is that Duchess Says is off spring of Lesbians On Ecstacy, who are also on the same label, and with whom Duchess Says share an interest in uptempo beats from the groove box, nasty guitars and spitting vocals. Like with the Lesbians it's hard to understand what these lyrics are about, but I believe they don't share the radical lesbian point. They don't share a love for playing covers or tunes based on covers. Thirteen tracks of forceful, loud tunes, with the energy and speed of punk. Not exactly sing a long pieces, that is a bit of a bummer, but it's certainly the nicest attempt at strange popmusic of this week. (FdW) Address: http://www.alien8recordings.com

HANNES LÖSCHEL - HERZ.BRUCH.STÜCK (CD by Loewenhertz)
Löschel is a composer/musician from Austria. Vienna to be more precise. Early in his career he was specialized in playing modern composed music. Later he turned to improvised music. This background is very obvious on his new CD 'Herz.Bruch.Stück', a collection of songs reporting from life from wedding to grave. Songs that are deeply rooted in the austrian musical song tradition. We hear great renditions of Franz Schubert songs 'Das Wirthaus' and 'Die Nacht'. Irresistible waltzes of Strauss, compositions of Löschel himself, etc. Songs that are sung in the beautiful vienna dialect, that you do not wish to understand because the expression and sound of it, says it all. In a very natural way these old songs are combined with improvisation and a more modern jazzy approach, always staying close to the original spirit of these old songs. In the way Löschel arranged, composed and interpreted this music, he proves that this austrian blues still is very enjoyable and up to date. Hannes Löschel surrounded himself with the following musicians: Klemens Lendl (violin, vocals), Michael Bruckner (guitars), Walther Soyka (harmonica), Karl Stirner (cither), Thomas Berghammer (trumpet, horn), Bernd Satzinger (bass), Mathias Koch (drums) and David Müller (vocals on track 4). Löschel himself plays piano, harmonium and cither. All of them play acoustic. There is only an electric guitar on some of the songs like in 'Warum' where Bruckner plays a nice solo, and where Berghammer is even more impressive on trumpet. This music is open to everything that happens in life, but always keeps a smile on his face. True soul music. (Dolf Mulder)
Address: http://www.loewenhertz.at/

STEFANO PILIA - ACTION SILENCE PRAYER (CD by Die Schachtel)
ANDREA BELFI - KNOTS (CD by Die Schachtel)
A story I told before is that on the night I saw 3/4Hadbeeneliminated I also saw Andrea Belfi, of whom I never heard. Belfi blew me away in his silent approach of the drumkit and organ, whereas 3/4Hadbeeneliminated blew me away, volume wise that is, not quality wise. Here Pilia, the guitarist of 3/4Hadbeeneliminated offers a solo release and it may seem he's trying to make up things for that loud concert. He plays guitar, obviously, plus loop pedal in six pieces that all breath a fresh breeze, morning sun light and tranquility. Ambient music with the big A that is. He does a very refined job here, absolutely weightless, timeless and whatever less one can think off, but since Brian Eno took off with the Apollo, there is not much news under the ambient sun. If you like calm, thoughtful and contemplating music, this is the place to be.
As far as I can remember from the Belfi concert, in relationship to 'Knots', I think this CD is the culmination of playing that material. Belfi is a drummer, but one with a soft, gentle touch. He doesn't have the harsh banging methods of say Jon Mueller, but his work is more about silence. He carefully hits a bit, even a rhythm or two (be reminded that this is hardly the work of improvisation), to which he adds a small, delicate blend of electronics (hammond organ perhaps, humming, static crackles). Like Pilia soft music that however is less ambient than Pilia, or rather perhaps it is ambient, but not of the well-known kind. Belfi actually does something that crosses the paths of ambient, post rock and electronica (and perhaps even a bit of ethnic music, I should add), and has crafted a really beautiful piece of work. Pilia is good, but known. Belfi is better because it bends the genre a bit further. (FdW)
Address: http://www.die-schachtel.com

KLANGWART - STADTLANDFLUSS (CD by Staubgold)
MAPSTATION/PAUL WIRKUS - FOREST FULL OF DRUMS (LP by Staubgold)
JASMINA MASCHINA - THE DEMOLITION SERIES (CD by Staubgold)
PEDAL - PEDAL (CD by Staubgold)
HEAVEN AND - SWEETER AS THE YEARS ROLL BY (CD by Staubgold)
A small explosion here for Staubgold, which I, for once, will accept, even when it's more than three. One of the things I looked forward to was the new Klangwart. Klangwart is the duo of Markus Detmer (Staubgold CEO) and Timo Reuber. They have been working together since 1996 but their has been only a handful of releases. In fact five, all in the years 1997 to 1999. Since then things have been quiet, but Klangwart has been around playing concerts. As such 'Stadtlandfluss' is not exactly new, since they attempted to record a version of it in 2004, when I saw this also performed live at Extrapool. In 2007 they finally succeeded in recording a version they liked. Using loops and electronics, along a pretty flexible score, they can perform this piece is various ways. Using samples from classical music, voices lifted from the radio, or the oscillating tones from a synthesizer or two, they craft a nice piece of music, ranging from subtle electronic drones in 'Zwei Töne' to an almighty classical piece in 'Telemann' (with a 1000 strings in full action). Sometimes close to the Germanic krautrock and cosmic music, the gamelan of 'Hamanamah' sounds very ungerman and absolutely gorgeous.
If I understood the press text correctly, the releases by Paul Wirkus and Mapstation (a.k.a. Stefan Schneider) was recorded outside, in a forest. Wirkus plays drums, cymbals, branches, leaves and 'air improvisations', while Schneider is responsible for 'steps, recording, editing and mixing'. It's an interesting idea, I think, not to mix some field recordings along some improvised percussion music, but to record it out in the field, complete with birds, voices or an airplane overhead. The playing of the drums and natural elements is rather loose and highly improvised, but it seems to me that Schneider is using various recordings and plays them over each other. It's a very fine work, a fine concept which is worked out in a very consistent manner. Nice one.
Jasmina Maschina is one half of Minit, the Australian duo in Berlin, who blew me away with a great concert in Extrapool some time ago. Her solo record may suggest industrial music mayhem, 'The Demolition Series' only demolishes your idea about Jasmina Maschina, as her solo music is quite far away from Minit. She plays guitar, sings and gets help from a bunch of musicians on melodica, piano, drums and more voice. It's music that is not found very often in these pages, as it's more folk than anything else - and I must state right away I am no folkie, so it's hard for me to make a proper judgment about it. I can hear elements of Maschina's other work (drone, noise) somewhere remotely in the background, so no doubt her work will be too strange for real folkies, but for me the whole thing is a bit too sweet and normal. Great lazy sunday afternoon music though and as such I must say I did quite like it.
Pedal is a duo: Chris Abrahams and Simon James Philips, the latter is a new name (I think), but Chris Abrahams was reviewed here only two weeks ago. Pedal plays the grand piano, the Steinway. Two pianos, four hands, seven pieces of music, which are all improvised. They cite as influences and inspirations: jazz, be-bop, hard bop, Terry Riley, Little Richard, Janacek, Grieg, Feldman, and much more. All of this culminate in something that is dreamy like piano music, inspired by Satie and Debussy, light verse jazz music, rhythmical, classical. They play with a light, impressionist touch, even when it's a bit louder as in 'Burgeon'. Great music, rather the first to play on that sunday afternoon - just after waking up, with the coffee still warm and then, after that Jasmina Maschina. That makes a fine afternoon and one is ready for some more heavy music.
I am however not sure if Heaven And would be my choice of something more heavy on that afternoon - it's more night music. Heaven And is a quartet of Martin Siewert (guitar), Tony Buck (drums), Steve Heather (drums) and Zeitblom (bass, keyboards). These names might give away some indication where things came from, or where they are going to. Recorded live in the studio. There is vocal help on two pieces by Alexander Hacke of Neubauten fame. Free rocking music, in which you can easily find jazz, post rock, post jazz, free rock, even elements borrowed from noise and heavy metal. Sometimes things sound very retro, certainly the way the guitars sound, and also the way it reminiscences Tortoise. Of the five the one I liked least. A bit worn out, this post post lot. (FdW) Address: http://www.staubgold.com

A (CD compilation by Zelphabet)
B (CD compilation by Zelphabet)
Almost close to thirty years now span the career of G.X. Jupitter-Larsen, better known as The Haters, and throughout these many years he has met many other musicians, labels and such like. His telephone book is well stocked with names so it seemed him a good thing to make the musical variation of his phonebook, an ambitious twenty-six (well, actually one more) series of compact discs with each three or four musicians with the same letter at the start of their name. So that accounts for the presence of Achim Wollscheid and Asmus Tietchens with the letter 'A'. With names like AMK and Arcane Device further on 'A', one could all too easily think that G.X. knows only old folks, but on 'B' we find the young ones The Beast People, 16 Bitch Pile-Up and Bob Bellerue with just one older person, blackhumour. 'B' is unmistakably the noise variation, with loud distorted pieces by the three new (relatively speaking of course) acts. Blackhumour, where has he been I was thinking, hands in one of his trademark pieces of unprocessed voices. Looped around, cutting them shorter as the piece progresses, this is both a stand still but since I gather not many people know him, it's good to get reacquainted. Bob Bellerue's piece of subdued noise is the best of the rest. AMK on 'A' also does what he seemingly always does, playing with damaged records. It's the least interesting piece on that one. Achim Wollscheid has a great computer controlled piece of playing Xylophone. Arcane Device created a recent mix of old feedback pieces and Asmus is in his recent mood of shimmering microtonal bits and pieces, fed through ring modulation. Great promising start, can't hardly wait. But it looks like a definite compendium of thirty years of difficult music. Subscribe now to this wiki of noise and know all there is to know. (FdW) Address: http://www.zelphabet.com

KOMMISSAR HJULER/JURGEN O OLBRICHT (CDR/DVDR by SHMF)
A friend of mine sells records and arty fart packed tapes and CDs. He has a large section of music by Kommissar Hjuler, which have odd packages and some even constitute as anti-records. This package is hardly spectacular. The DVD has a film of a handmade airplane, hand held moving along a scenic landscape and road. A short scene of two guys in an office and the plane heads back. Spacepatrol Orion. On the CDR a short spoken word piece between Kommissar Hjuler and Jürgen O. Olbrich, recorded separately on two cassette decks. Beats me if I knew what this is all about. I'm really clueless. The sort of stuff you can watch for hours and still feel clueless. Beyond good or bad, this is true art: it makes me wonder, on end. (FdW) Address: http://www.asylum-lunaticum.de

JDG - LIVING UNDERGROUND (CDR by Cohort Records)
THE INFANT CYCLE/DRONAEMENT - SPLIT (CDR by Cohort Records)
JDG stands for John D. Gore, owner of Cohort Records, and sometimes known as Kirchenkampf or The Oratory Of Divine - with subtle differences between the two projects. I don't know why this is credited as JDG. 'All tracks are made from source material provided by Robert Carlberg's Anode Urban Soundscape Series' it says on the cover, but that doesn't ring a bell here. However it sounds nice: a muffled recording of street sounds. It's really hard to tell what Gore did to the material and how it sounded in its original form. Simple in its execution, but it certainly has something captivating. Like sitting on a square in a big city with eyes closed, listening to the multitude of sounds around with none standing out of the rest. Great if you don't have to deal with the noise of a big city on a daily basis.
Cohort also releases a bunch of great split CDR releases, of which this is another fine addition of two bands that have surely crossed paths before, be it on virtually. Originally the split series started as a series of split releases of various drone musicians, but that path is long gone. The Infant Cycle uses a bunch of low tech equipment (cheap keyboard, guitar, poly 800 etc) in his first track, but takes too much time to develop something decent out of it. His second piece deals with harbor sounds and is much nicer with slowly developing field processing. 'Organ Music For You' is a nice piece of heavy drone music. Dronaement has more piece, six in total, and actually it's one piece in six parts, as far as I'm concerned. Pieces are mixed into eachother and use mainly field recordings and a faint organ drone. Much more coherent than The Infant Cycle bunch on this release, this actually great stuff. Soft, but outspoken. Nothing new, but all gorgeous. (FdW) Address: http://cohortrecords.0catch.com

ADAM SONDERBERG/OPHIBRE (cassette by Ophibre)
Perhaps you recognize the name of Adam Sonderberg from his previous releases as a member of Dropp Ensemble and Civil War or his collaboration with Paul Bradley, here he offers two long solo compositions, which cleverly explore the medium it was released on. Two 'untitled music' pieces, one 'for .aiff and magnetic tape' and one 'for bell and sine tone' and it's released by that always obscure Ophibre label. I'd say clever since on the first side of this tape by Ophibre, a fair amount of hiss that comes courtesy of releasing it on cassette plays a big part, when over the course of the length, I think thirty minutes, some sort of minimalist piano music is being fade up from the ultimate lower depths of the hiss and ultimately rises to the hearing level. Irregular piano loops, repeated at infinitum, makes quite a nice piece. Not much silence on the b-side by Sonderberg. Bell sounds are repeated to such an extent that they take the form of a drone, which they merge into the sine waves until the bells is beyond decay, and the whole thing starts again. Maybe both sides are a bit too long, but the sturdy conceptual and minimalist approach of Sonderberg is more than alright. Could have also a great CDR! (FdW) Address: http://www.ophibre.com

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