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Vital Weekly 619

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MACHINE FOR MAKING SENSE - THE ACT OF OBSERVATION BECOMES THE OBJECT ITSELF (CD by Rossbin)
How noble! Rossbin no longer sell their CDs but give them to anyone who make a donation to a private institution for poor and disabled children in Peru. That's something that should be done more, but I'm afraid it won't easily happen. Over the many years of their existence, Australia's Machine For Making Sense have had many members, with, I believe Jim Denley and Stevie Wishart to be constant factors. They play hurdy gurdy, vocals and electronics and wind instruments and electronics. Here they are together with Amanda Stewart (voice and text) and Rik Rue (analog and digital manipulation). As a 'band they explore relations between linguistics, poetry, speech, music, notions of sound, science and politics.' To that end the conversation is important - be it the conversation between instruments, the conversation of techniques applied as well as the multitude of voices that they use and which come to the listener in all sorts of appearances, many of them not to be dissected as voices.
Above and beyond all doubt Machine For Making Sense is a group of musicians who play improvised music. Even when this was recorded in 2001, the group uses extended techniques, anywhere for regular playing of their instruments to the 'instrument as object' treatment from the world of silence improvisers. Text bits fly about, and the whole thing requires a lot of attention. Despite being inspired by the onkyo posse, Machine For Making Sense make a lot of sound, constant, densely layered and one has to keep the full attention span as not to make loose anything that is going on here. Not really easy listening, laid back improvisation, but sturdy and powerful. Peal off some more layers, and more beauty will unfold. (FdW)
Address: http://www.rossbin.com

LINSEY WELLMAN & MIKE ESSOUDRY - SAME (CD by Malasartes)
YUL - DEPARTURE (CD by Malasartes)
Two new releases from the small Malasartes label that is run by Damian Nisenson.
Linsey Wellman (alto and soprano sax) and Mike Essoudry (drums, percussion) are together here for their first effort. In thirteen pieces that are composed and arranged by themselves, they play charming duets. In most pieces Wellman leads with his beautiful saxplaying. He has a nice tone, and there is some eastern touch in his playing. But Essoudry places many effective accents with his reduced playing. Together they built nice atmospheres. Most pieces are of a meditative nature. Inspired music it is.
Yul is a trio of Pierre Tanguay (drums), Erwin Vann (saxes) and Michel Mergaerts (bass). Tanguay needs no introduction. He left his mark on dozens of albums, many of them on the Ambiances Magnétiques label. Vann and Mergaerts are both from Belgium. Vann is a professional since 1985. Worked with Toots Thielemans, Wayne Shorter, Paolo Fresu, Marc Ducret, Bobby Previte, a.o. Michel Mergaerts from Brussels, started his career as a blues guitarist. Later he played with belgian jazz giants as Steve Houben, Pirly Zurstrassen and Jean-Louis Rassinfosse. Since about seven years he lives in Canada, playing with vocalist Julie Lebon and Trioxyde, a prog-rock/jazz outfit. The three met in 2005 and started their Yul-project. The title of their CD refers to a common experience for all three of them: passing airports. Compared to the cd by Wellman and Essoudry this one is much more close to jazz. The playing of Vann is delicate and poetic. A lyrical player. Mergaerts produces a warm sound from his
bass. Tanguay is the most eccentric of the three with his polyrhytmic playing. But if you don't share their love for jazz, this one will not talk to you. (Dolf Mulder) Address: http://www.actuellecd.com/

THE MAGIC I.D. - TILL MY BREATH GIVES OUT (CD by Erst Pop)
Improvisation and popmusic is a rare combination, but it's surely an interest for Kai Fagaschinski and Christof Kurzmann. They worked together on a release before, 'First Time I Ever Saw Your Face' by Kommando Raumschiff Zitrone, but that was merely a shadow of what now has become The Magic I.D. Back then (Vital Weekly 567) things were still firmly rooted in improvisation, here it's starting to shape up as popmusic. The band has two clarinet players. On the right hand Kai Fagaschinski  and on the left Marcel Thieke, whereas there is also on Margareth Kammerer on vocals and guitars and Kurzmann on vocals, laptop and lloop. As you should I always welcome popmusic, be it stupid, be it intelligent, and most of all in combination with all the other musical interests I have. So: hurrah to The Magic I.D.  The pieces were recorded live in the studio, with the emphasis on the voice of Kammerer, who sings them with a rather sweet, jazzy voice. Sometimes in duet with Kurzmann whose voice fits
well. The music on the other hand is all improvised, of course with a large portion for the two clarinets. The laptop is merely an ornament, keeping things reduced to the background, while the guitar gently weeps in the wind. Still the improvisational aspects of this release are high and mighty, but they break away from the routines that sometimes hoover in these areas and combine it with something entirely different. The Magic I.D. are not likely to be seen on MTV miming their hit, nor easily in anything even remotely alternative popmusic, or jazz by any standard. So they find a voice of their own, a rarity these days. This offers many new roads to be explored. Perhaps Erstwhile, on whose sub division this is, will surprise us some more. (FdW) Address: http://www.erstwhilerecords.com

K. LEIMER - LESSER EPITOMES (CD by Palace Of Lights)
In less than eighteen months K. Leimer released three CDs (see also Vital Weekly 533 and 573), which is a great break from the silence of the years before. 'Statistical Truth', the first after his return, was the last work of the old Leimer, the world of analogue synthesizers and ambient. 'The Useless Lesson' after that had a more classic approach, with a string trio among others. As remarked back then, Leimer re-invented his ambient music through classical means, and this is what he continues here on 'Lesser Epitomes', which has twenty-one tracks, divided among three pieces, but the cover suggests to play these in random order. It also says that this is 'process music for active and passive listening. The pieces are derived from the aleatoric reordering of discreet, compatible musical components in relationships that emulate typical theme and variation'. The cover doesn't list any players of the string instruments, which leads us to believe that Leimer played them himself, or perhaps uses a piece of software that imitates the sound of strings. 'Nonadaptive Layers' and 'Nine Approximations' are much a like - layered string pieces of violins and cello's, moving slowly and majestically. 'Naive Music' (seven parts), is the old Leimer, although it seems, again to the cover, that he uses  field recordings in these pieces, but also, me thinks, analogue synthesizers. Played at random the pieces start to differentiate and as such make a bigger impact than played from beginning to end, because the first two are the beginning and sound much alike. But when the pieces from 'Naive Music' are thrown in, things really start to differ, and make this a particular strong album. Leimer is a highly accomplished ambient musician and 'Lesser Epitomes' is a great work. The press blurb says that it should 'find favor with fans of a certain eggheaded Englishman' and I am spending my sunday afternoon thinking who that would be: Eno or Nyman? Address: http://www.palaceoflights.com

VATICAN ANALOG: SHOW THE LOVE (CD compilation by Vatican Analog)
"We are Vatican Analog. We play and book shows for both music & art. We release silly records for silly people [...] this CD is 1 euro. Don't pay more". Tilburg is by now the fifth biggest city of The Netherlands (I believe), so it has lots of artists and when they decide to be together and make something happen together they have my warm enthusiasm. On this sampler we come across names that are common places in Vital Weekly, such as Jos Smolders, Staplerfahrer, Vincent Koreman, THU20 (not strictly a band from Tilburg, mind you), DMDN & The Haters (with a recording from 1987) but also names that are entirely new to me such as Neurobit, The Truth Is In The Eyes Of The Deer, Meldy Peaches, Jimmy Hawthorne, Autonon, Bas Verbeek. This 1 euro CD has sixteen bands and projects (some of these may contain the same names actually, but in different combinations). The musical range of the boys (no girls can be seen from this end of the telescope) is wide apart. There is breakcore, old school
industrial, current day laptop microsound, ambient drones and wacked out techno. Maybe a too mixed bag to be fully enjoyed as one thing, but perhaps if you are open minded enough. Otherwise pick your favorites and start throwing a party with them. An amazing collection of music from one city, where just a lot of very interesting things are happening. This is your ticket inside. This is just well spend 1 euro. (FdW)
Address: http://www.vatican-analog.com

1/3 OCTAVE BAND - I WILL PASS BY HERE (CD by Humbug Records)
EDWARD RUCHALSKI - WATER TRAIN (CD by Humbug Records)
This is already the third release by the 1/3 Octave Band from New Zealand, following 'Sub Limina' (Vital Weekly 515) and 'Icarus' (Vital Weekly 586). Originally the 1/3 Octave Band was a solo project of Bill Wood, who produced a whole string of CDRs, lathe cut records, vinyl and CDs, but now a duo with Jules Desmond (of Black Boned Angel and The Grey Daturas). Humbug announces this new CD not to be 'an original piece of music', but the result of many influences, such as the early Tangerine Dream, Taj Mahal Travellers, Tony Conrad, Stars Of The Lid, Oren Ambarchi and more from the field of drones, atmospherics, dark ambient or isolationist music (to use that fine old phrase). Still lots of guitars, doubled by more than you eat sound effects, creating five lengthy pieces (from five to twenty-five minutes) of highly atmospheric music. Humbug is right, there is no prize to win here for original thoughts on the subject of drone music, but it still sounds great. Orchestral at times, spherical, like drifting, grey clouds passing by like a Ligeti piece. Very nice indeed.
A long time ago, in Vital Weekly 315, I was first introduced to the music of Edward Ruchalski, though his self-released 'Radio Journal' CDR which was later he re-release by Norway's Humbug label who also released 'Moveable Sites' (Vital Weekly 355). Ruchalski also released music on Taalem and Digitalis Industries. Ruchalski, by day a teacher of the guitar, does a variety of works: sound installation, collages, builds his own instruments and works with field recordings. For reasons that are not entirely clear to me, well other than of course someone really liking the old material, Humbug's latest Ruchalski release is a best of of the first two releases on Humbug, selected by Ruchalski plus two new pieces. Ruchalski uses field recordings, motorized objects and loops of sound. Ruchalski's work is of great, beautiful simplicity. His pieces evolve or revolve around just one or two sounds, which are played in a kinda irregular manner. They are looped by the irregular (slightly I must add) of the motors running say rubbing bands against them. This adds a strange effect to the music, which is of great naivety. Ruchalski's music is a delight to hear. Part improvised, part drone based, part musique concrete, but all combined in a highly personal manner. None of the material lost their strength over the years, so perhaps its entirely justifiable that it's preserved for a longer period through the release on CD. (FdW)
Address: http://www.myspace.com/humbugofnorway

WERNER DURAND - REMNANTS FROM PARADISE (CD by Absurd)
The name Werner Durand might not be very well-known, which is a great pity. His claim to fame has nothing to do with his real music: he played flute on Muslimgauze' 'Mort Aux Vaches' release. But Durand's background is with improvisation and wind instruments. As far as I can remember there is only solo release by him, 'The Art Of Buzzing' on X-TRact/Edition RZ (see Vital Weekly 305), where he plays PVC pipes with saxophone mouthpieces or flower pots and tin foil plates as resonators. His great power lies in multi-tracking his playing, obscuring the original sounds through very simple means of layering many on top of each other. After all these years it's still his favorite method of composing music. The cover lists the instruments such as bamboo and metal mouthharps, tanpura, sliding pvc-ney and sliding pvc clarinets with prepared resonators, electronics and delays. The end result is a highly minimalist pattern which he gently waves together, going to small changes all the time, thus avoiding leaping into pure minimal music. One could say that this is drone music, but like before I like to draw a parallel to the work of Phill Niblock, even when Durand's music is a bit more clouded and less detailed. Overall however it's a highly atmospheric set of sounds Durand is playing here. Hopefully more music will be made available and not in another seven years, as this is really nice stuff. (FdW) Address: http://www.void.gr/absurd

FREDERIC BLONDY & THOMAS LEHN - OBDO (CD by Another Timbre)
CLIVE BELL & BECHIR SAADE - AN ACCOUNT OF MY HUT (CD by Another Timbre)
MAX EASTLEY & GRAHAM HALLIWELL & EVAN PARKER & MARK WASTELL - A LIFE SAVED BY A SPIDER AND TWO DOVES (CD by Another Timbre)
One can only be jealous I guess at the workings of labels of Improvised music. Are they sponsored by the mafia? Just where exactly do they get their money? Another Timbre exists only a few months and here they offer release number eight to ten. Two times a duo and one quartet. File under: improvised music. First we have Frederic Blondy on piano and Thomas Lehn on analogue synthesizer. The latter picks up the sounds produced on the piano with his 'external input' and thus can do real time processing of the sounds using the filters, reverberation, ring modulation and what else such a machine offers. The have two pieces, the first and shortest one is an edit of various bits from a concert in Bourogne with a bit of a recording from Montreuil, whilst the second, title, piece is a straight recording from one concert, save for some minor adjustments. It's interesting to hear what editing could do here. In 'Pooq', things are kept highly 'silent' with just a few careful sounds. It sounds like the music was edited out, certainly if we compare it to 'Obdo', which is a much fuller piece, if not, at times, a noisy piece. The piano is scanned for all sorts of sound possibilities, hitting the keys, the body, the strings and together they wave an endless stream of sound together, a pairing that goes wonderfully well together. A fine, thought out work of improvisation.
Wind instruments are the main players on the disc by Clive Bell, who plays Shakuhachi, and Bechir Saade, who plays the Ney. Two non-western instruments, recorded live in concert in 2007 in London. I must admit it costed me considerable more trouble getting into this. They have seven piece, each of around five to almost nine minutes, and the playing and recording is more than excellent. That isn't the trouble here. After I heard three pieces, I thought I heard enough. Everything after that seemed a mere repetition of moves, skills, techniques. I thought the best pieces were the most silent ones, in which they work the overtones, like in 'Cloud Trapeze' (which proofs I heard the entire disc, which sometimes people doubt). Like the previous, this is also an endless stream of sound, but with less density and variation and one that probably requires a totally different listening approach.
Two generations meet up, it seems, on the disc of Eastley and Parker on one side and Halliwell and Wastell on the other side. Parker plays his soprano saxophone, while Halliwell is on computer and electronics, Wastell on tam tam, metal percussion and harmonium and Eastley on an electro acoustic monochord called Arc. The music on this release is from their very first concert as a quartet, which continued afterwards. The improvisations going on here aren't easy to describe. There are on one hand the electronic and electric charged machinery, which provide a very modern look, crackling, drone, static, but on the other hand there is the acoustical instruments that, especially Parker's saxophone, that sound very traditionally improvised. However most of the times this marriage works wonderfully well. The stream of sound thought, let's continue that here too then, works fine here too. An endless stream of sounds colliding into eachother, bumping  but also carefully missing eachother, like a near collision. In that way each of the player knows how to avoid the other, but also it's a matter of respect for the others; each of the players get room to play, to develop, take shape and transform, noting what the others do and adding where necessary. A great work too. (FdW) Address: http://www.anothertimbre.com/

METALYCEE (12" by Interstellar Records)
Much water has passed under the bridge since I heard 'Another White Album' by Metalycee, back then (Vital Weekly 443) a duo of Armin Steiner and Nik Hummer (who are also part of Thilges3), taking heavy metal drumming into the world of electronics. I thought it to be a daring album, but not entirely convincing. After years of silence they return, as a five piece, with Bernhar Breuer on drums, Melita Jurisic on vocals and Matija Schellander on bass and the original two on synth and trautonium. Their metal drumming is slow core by any means, actually more hip and trip hop, with deep rumbling bass and synthesizers, with dark spoken (even more rap) rather than sung texts. Like before I think more appealing to people who like electronic music rather than metal heads. I must admit that I quite liked the three songs on this 12" single, a well rounded dark trip along empty barely lit streets. Big city angst. Time for another album I'd say. (FdW) Address: http://www.interstellarrecords.at

ABESTA - TOSCO (CDR by Sonora)
Two brothers from Brazil, Zimmer (vocals, screams and feedback) and Suzuki Bata (scrap metal, contact mics, effects and noise generators) form Abesta. The picture provided by Sonora makes it look like a Merzbow line up of guitar pedals and the music certainly borrows ideas from the Jap master, but there are some differences. Abesta is more rhythmical in their approach, cutting sounds in and out,  against the wall of noise approach. Also they have shorter pieces, with minor differences that is, but there are differences. One thing is that I think Abesta are more interested in taking noise to another level, not play the endless stream of feedback and distortion, but actually composing with the noise they put on. Maybe the sound is still a bit too Merzbow like, but here's a noise band which I think has potential to grow further and move beyond. Future will tell, but this is solid start. (FdW) Address: http://www.sonorodisc.com

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