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Vital Weekly 621

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LEHN & GRYDELAND & ZACH - (CD by Musica Genera)
When I open a parcel with multiple items, like this one I start playing just whatever comes in my one hand first. When it's on, I start investigating the rest. So while playing the release by Robert Piotrowicz and jotting down on a piece of paper 'loud drones', I noticed that the other two would be entirely something different. Interesting. Ok. So writing down 'loud drones' was just the first impression of Robert Piotrowicz. I never heard of him. His release was recorded in two days, but then mixed over various dates in 2007. Piotrowicz plays one instrument, the Doepfer A100 modular synthesizer. The loud drone thing only goes for the first piece. The other three are much more subtle. Whoever this Piotrowicz is, he plays his instrument with great care. Building large spaces with a massive, fat, dense sound that is highly minimal, but somehow, somewhere has a great captivate feel to it. Industrial? Perhaps. Minimal? Yes. Ambient? At times. Impressive music.
Now onto the other two. Both are releases are live recordings of a trio playing improvised music. The first is Tony Buck on drums, Cor Fuhler on piano and electronics and Anna Zaradny on alto saxophone. I never heard of the latter, while the other two are all over the improvised music scene. Their recording is from already two years ago, and displays their qualities well - as far as I can judge of course in the case of Zaradny, who seems to me the most regular player in this trio. Her contribution is certainly making this into a much more conventional album. Her playing is quite jazz related and blurs for me at least the playing of the other two, who seems to be doing interesting things on the drum kit and the piano. A bit of a pity but the saxophone playing of this kind is not well spend on me.
Of much more interest is the trio of Thomas Lehn (analogue synthesizer), Ivar Grydeland (guitar, guitar banjo) and Ingar Zach (percussion), with an even older recording, from 2005. All three are also from that ever inspiring improvisation field, working with anybody they can think of. Here they are in full form. They treat their instruments with care and trust. Bent and break the things at hand. This trio offers a very dynamic set of music, going from soft introspective parts to loud, vicious strokes. Their instruments sound usually unlike what they are supposed to sound, save, perhaps, for Lehn's, but then what does an analogue synthesizer sound like? Exactly. It sounds only like Lehn does. Peeping loud, moaning, grunting. The other two get likewise sounds out of their instruments and make this release an utter joy. (FdW)

As reported before, of Christian H. Sötemann we reviewed a couple of solo CDR with shady, hazy post ambient isolationist guitar music, but his main line of work is a band Cryptic Scenery, of which we only heard one track on a split 7" with Antenne. That failed to make any impression, but that was perhaps it was because it was just one track. Now I know for sure: Cryptic Scenery is not my kind of music. At all. Citing Roxy Music, King Crimson, Ultravox, John Cale, Talk Talk (actually some of these I like too), this band however fails to make much impression. Perhaps because what inspired them I heard when I was much younger, but my taste has progressed, and I play some of that old stuff for nostalgic reasons only. I certainly don't think this is bad at all. Production wise, music wise, the way things are played, it's all done with great care and eye for detail. Just nothing for me.
Of Konrad Korabiewski I never heard, although he has done remixes of the Danish band Amstrong, which I do know. Originally from Poland, he know lives in Denmark too. It's hard for me to understand what he wants with his CD 'Stateless'. The pieces are based around rhythm, even manage to sound a bit techno like, but somehow don't sound like floor fillers to me - adding that I am not a DJ, so what do I know? But then there also bits of music around, especially in the built up of some of the pieces that are quite experimental and for which Korabiewski takes his time. Not that they sound super great, but it adds a street credibility with the Vital Street gang. Perhaps music like this better off on a piece of vinyl and being played loud in a club, in stead of this mediocre volume at home. Like Cryptic Scenery something of which I can hear that it well made and with love but perhaps not entirely my cup of tea. (FdW)

KIOKU - BOTH FAR AND NEAR (CD by Quiet Design)
New York City is still a place where new musical adventures are born. And not all of them find their way to the Tzadik catalogue. Kioku (japanese for "memory") is N.Y.C.-based trio who released their new one on the small Quiet Design label. And that is the way I like it. Who are Kioku? The trio is made up of Wynn Yamami (taiko, percussion), Ali Sakkal (saxophones, percussion) and Christopher Ariza (live electronics). Their music is a very unusual blend of influences, unheard before and providing the word 'worldmusic' with a new content. Yamami is specialized in playing japanese percussion. Sax-player Sakkal originates from Kuwait. With his eastern background he studied with Branford Marseilles, Oliver Lake, a.o. Ariza is a composer and programmer of sonic structures and systems. He composed for theatre, film, interactive media, etc. With their different backgrounds asian percussion music, jazz and sound art come together for a new adventure. In contrast, most compositions refer to already existing traditional korean and japanese music. 'Drum Thing' is a composition by John Coltrane. 'Spirits 16' is composed by Keith Jarrett. Over all the music is very powerful and aggressive. In most pieces we hear eastern rhythms and patterns played with much energy on eastern percussion, noisy and abstract sounds, and a jazzy saxophone. But the furious and convincing playing of the three, leaves you no time to wonder about this exceptional combination. They have no time and reason to hesitate. The tapestry of percussive beats is in most pieces very dominant, also because the traditional percussion colors the soundspectrum considerably. But also the saxophone often is in a prominent role. The live electronics of Azira however have a place more in the background, bridging everything effectively and inconspicuous together. An excellent work! (Dolf Mulder)

A bit of regional patriotism is something I for one never dislike - Nijmegen rules of course (to remind you once again that Vital Weekly is not, we repeat, not from Amsterdam). But would I want a CD with all sorts of music from Nijmegen only? Perhaps not. Wales is somewhat bigger than Nijmegen, so here's a triple CD of music from Wales, named after Huxley's 'Brave New World', although the Welsh title translates as 'Four Hours In Future Wales', oddly enough. I could only think of one Welsh band, on top of my head, being Super Furry Animals, but they don't seem to part of this collection (maybe to big?). Glancing at all these names, I only seem to be recognizing one, which is Graham Bowers and Rhodri Davies. Although there are no less than forty-eight pieces in somewhere over 240 minutes of music, some people have various pieces, so it's not forty-eight different artists. It's quite a daring move to start with a couple of strong noise pieces on disc one, but as the CDs evolve there are also other forms of music, mostly ambient and field recordings, as this turns out to be a release of music that is nowhere near rock music and that's the cool thing about this release, it's all connected to the world of experimental music, in all it shades and colors. Hard to tell track by track what is there, but as a whole, this is an excellent introduction to Wales and it's musical undercurrent. Including Gimp Nipples, Chuch, Achonry, Rose Heyworth, Gwydion Gruffield, Stereo Minus One, Edwin Pang, Richard Bowers, WHITENOISESOUND, Tatamax, Carrintavy, Min Boyce, Y Phthwng, The Lumpy Choo Choo Band, Carphology Collective, Beautiful Screaming Lady, Simon Proffitt, Angharad Davies/Rhodri Davies, Steve Hubback, Gorwel Owen, Eirwyn Llwyd Roberts, The 14th Century, Y Chwiorydd Marw, Traw, Jim Knight, Fiona Owen, ISG, Nawadaha, Lleu Williams, Hwyl Nofio, Ap Duw, The Master Musicians Of Dyffryn Moor, Perfect Blue, Sound Engineer, Matthew Lovett & Javier Carmona, Strap The Button, Green End Listening Station, Dominic De Nebo and Carrintavy. Extended information on all of these in the booklet. (FdW) Address:

OPEN EYE DUO - SEA & FISH (CDR by Ikuisuus)
MY3YEAH (CDR by Ikuisuus)
Lots of new names to be explored on Finland Ikuisuus label. Its hard for me to see why something is released on CD and something else on CDR - there must be logic there which I fail to see. From Denmark comes Elektronavn AKA Magnus Olsen Majmon, who plays a whole bunch of instruments, such as clarinet, voice, guitar, organ, flute, gong, harp, percussion and field recordings. The outcome is not easy to lump into some musical category. I think Elektronavn likes drone music, but played on what seems to me be a set of mainly acoustic instruments with hardly any electronically means. Which is fine of course, had it not for the fact that it's not a great recording. A bit hollow. In some ways I think Elektronavn is a bit of a hippie, scratching, scraping and chanting his two lengthy songs. I wouldn't be surprised to know that Elektronavn rather would have made a LP, highly limited with hand made covers, which in some circles would give him a legendary status. Free psychedelic music I guess, but not for me.
The other releases are on CDR. Open Eye Duo are Pascal Nichols and Dave Birchall. Dave is the man behind Black And White Cat Press, and has played in bands like Stuckometer, Kalbakken and My Beautiful Ridiculous Plan. Pascal has releases on Rayon Records and played in Stuckometer, Chora, On Fire and A Band. Together they recorded on Pascal's birthday in his flat with a bunch of instruments such as a floor tom, a guitar and found objects. They have a very direct in your face of scraping, scratching, plucking and hitting their instruments and objects which is actually quite nice to hear. Its certainly is quite raw and untamed, but the fact that the recording is quite nice make this a delight to hear. Some of scraping of strings sound like Agencement, if anyone remembers that. A recording that is very much acoustic, even when there is a bit of feedback in 'Booted'. Loud acoustic music is what we need.
Something entirely different is Matomeri, which is a band from Tampere and holds one of the directors of the label it's ranks. Its Timo Puustinen on synth and drums, and Jussi Ahonen on throat and guitar and Simo Pieniniemi on guitar. Together they play loud free improvisation music, through hazes and shades of feedback and distortion in an endless of wall of sound approach. A bit blurry in the recording (where's the throat, the synth?) and reminded me of some of the Acid Mothers Temple. It's pretty much o.k. but not entirely my cup of beer then.
Something similar I could say about Argentina My3yeah, a duo of Tomas Muller and gmc. On their self titled CDR they offer five long improvisations, mostly or entirely in the area of electronics. They crash about in a semi noise based way, but things never get too loud or too gritty. That is fine, but in itself I didn't think these pieces were very good, except for the last one, which was much softer and based around slow samples. A much ambient drone piece at work here, which worked well, despite its length. (FdW)

ENEMA SYRINGE - LIVE AT THE NO FUN FEST 2007 (LP by No Fun Productions)
RELIGIOUS KNIVES - RESIN (CD by No Fun Productions)
The annual No Fun Fest must be one hell of a weekend, considering that many recordings from the festival are later immortalized on disc by No Fun Productions themselves. The bill for each year certainly sounds like it's the most exciting festival around at the moment, if only it wasn't that far away for us Europeans. You would therefore think that it's a small solace that we now get the chance to hear these performances in our own homes, but the question is if it's such a great curatorial idea to release several individual live releases from each year's lineup.
After Merzbow, Incapacitants and Pain Jerk it's now time for sets by Aaron Dilloway, No Fun-head honcho Carlos Giffoni himself, and Enema Syringe, all on LP. I always dig Dilloway's solo stuff, and his side of the split-LP he shares with Giffoni is no letdown either. No need to peak-in if you're indifferent to the word ,loop' though, as that is Dilloway's main feature. He creates repeating patterns of rough sounds from a variety of sources (mostly tapes I guess), but his sound never becomes too extreme, in fact it always stays quite musical, even when he lets go more towards the end. The Giffoni side shows him in the analogue style that we know of him by now. Sputtering synths aplenty here, as if the airconditioning has been turned on max for the No Fun audience during his set, and it must've also sounded quite refreshing after hearing 10 Japnoise acts I guess. Both sets have a studio-quality in sound, and both sets are great introductions for these artists.
Enema Syringe is an old noise institution from Sweden, and as it is one of the main objectives of the festival to get an idea of what spectrum of noise acts there have been (as long as they're still active, and if not, Carlos will probably revive them again for one night). This is the first time I heard this solo-act, but his sweet introduction with the heavy Swedish accent on top of some religious church singing already wins me over. It's not as harsh as I thought it would be, though its repetition can be grinding, and he mutters and screams unintelligibly over mostly all of it. I've never liked screamo-noise, but he does have some interesting sounds going on, especially an electro-like rhythm in the first track of the second side. It sounds like a Ricky Martin cover anyway. No, I didn't say that. I guess Swedish is just not a good language to scream in. The last track is like the Swedish Chef on a bad acid trip.
Religious Knives just released their first ,real' album "It's After Dark", but this is their second CD for No Fun on which they collect limited material from 12" and CDR releases. It's a nice follow-up to "Remains" in that is shows their development towards a more open and melodic side. I tend to like the early material better, especially when I hear the single "In The Back", which has a certain silly feeling to the way the vocals are delivered. They fare better on the b-side of that 12" with its gorgeous use of organ and harmonica, but again the singing sounds a little underdeveloped. It's a recurring problem on this collection, but look beyond it and you get a beautifully sounding set of tracks. The spacious quality of the keys, guitar and cymbals on "Growth" are RK's biggest strength, even if it can veer closely to times agone, echoeing a languid version of the Doors in almost every track.
Timeless and without comparison though, is the new Thurston Moore solo album. More intricate then, say, his work as Bark Haze, much more listenable too (even if the little girl on the cover doesn't agree). The first track is layer over layer of guitar, but nothing gets out of hand, it sounds rather balanced. A backbone of acoustic guitar is backing up a frontal guitar freakout, and they work perfectly together. After a nice short middle track the final one rips up the scene to pieces, a quite noisy affair though still very enjoyable. I wouldn't mind hearing more of this stuff from Mr. Moore... (Robert Meijer)

People, who followed the heydays of death metal, would have heard of the Dutch project Nocturnus that revolutionized the scene with its use of synthesizer to create sinister atmospheres in the symphonies of grinding metal. As soon as I saw the cover of this present CD-album by Mike Browning Inner Workings, I was reminded by the debut-album of Nocturnus, "The key" released on the legendary Earache label back in 1991. The doomy dark blue colors on a bizarre sci-fi monstrous world from "The key" remain on this solo-album of ex-Nocturnus vocalist/drummer Mike Browning titled "Trancemissions". Mike Browning was the man with the strange robotic talking vocals of Nocturnus, thus responsible for the strange expression that led to the success of the band. Now Mike Browning has left the harsh expression behind and moved into the world of electronics to explore new sonic borderlands. In the electronic world Mike Browning focus on dark nocturnal atmospheres with the exclusion of any kind of rhythmic texture. From the opening track titled "Inner workings" consisting of threatening thick drones and buzzing noises swirling in the background to the more melodic yet sinister work "The edge of the universe" that almost reminds of the John Williams theme to Ridley Scott's Blade Runner. A radical change by the ex-drummer and vocalist of death metal projects that apart from Nocturnus also counts Morbid Angel and Incubus - a radical change that actually does quite well on this debut album. (Niels Mark) Address:

Despite the fact that Ant-Zen Recordings traditionally has more focus on the harsh Industrial-related expressions with Hymen Records putting more focus on less harsher and more IDM-based expressions there is some similarity between the two legendary labels run Stefan S. Alt. The two present albums from the two labels are by artists that certainly know how to create excellent club friendly rhythm textures. "Nailsleeper" from L.A.-based project Marching Dynamics and released via Hymen Records, proves that the brain behind, S. Talada, has a sense of creating beat textures cut sharp into an almost militant pace. Thus the project name suits perfect to the style. Take for instance the club-track titled "Un fall able" with dark technoid atmospheres not far away from early Biosphere, circa "Novelty waves". Another perfect moment is the ultra-cool track "Stoic" based on old-school electro-beats reminiscent of early pioneering electro-tracks such as Hashim's "Al-Naa-Fiysh (The Soul)" and Africa Bambaataa's "Planet Rock". The album moves in a nice balance between dreamy ambient-techno, breakbeats and a few moments of Industrial interventions. No really harsh moments on this one. Harshness on the other side is found on the next album released via Ant-Zen Recordings. French project "Twinkle" has gained cult status for their live shows around Europe. Therefore the debut album titled "Le Jouet" from the duo has been long awaited. Expressionally Twinkle varies from a downbeat Industrial-style of great atmospheres to pompous melodies of floating orchestral ambient as on the excellent track "Ton style". On a track titled "Les voies infectees" the expression turns more abrasive with a number of voice samples and strange synth-lines moving above very cool downbeat yet rather complex rhythm textures. Awesome track! The combination of experimental electronics and catchy Industrial-textures works great. Two awesome albums from Ant-Zen recordings and Hymen Records. (Niels Mark)

By now, the name Steven Hess could be well-known. Whenever I see something with his name attached to it, like Pan American, Fessenden, Haptic, Dropp Ensemble or collaborating with say Robert Hampson, it's time to open the ears and listen. Hess is a drummer who can play jazz, electro-acoustic sound and improvisation. Here he teams up with one Miles Tilmann of whom I never heard, but who works, apparently, with ambient, experimental and dance music. Here he plays electronics, while Hess plays drums and vibraphone. The six pieces are richly layered, textured pieces which are one foot in the ambient music and one foot in laid back, groovy rhythms. Hess plays with a great jazzy feeling, with brushes and such like and Tilmann adds a fine blend of textured electronics to it. There is an influence of Pan American to be traced throughout these pieces which is quite nice. A great pairing of improvisation, musique concrete, dub, ambient in six particular strong tracks. (FdW)

AUDIOSCOOP COMPILATION 1 (2LP compilation by Audioscoop)
FREIBAND - CAPTURE (3" CDR by My Own Little Label)
Since 2005, "Audioscoop" is an ongoing series of musical events, held in the lovely soundworkplace "Intro In Situ", in Maastricht, the Netherlands. Kim Laugs, member of Feedback Society and who I suspect to be the brainchild behind Audioscoop, invites artists to "explore the boundaries in sound and music". This double LP contains a selection of artists who where part of these events, between 2005 and 2007. They were asked to deliver exclusive material or edits from their live performances at Intro In Situ. Quite some pioneer explorers are to be found here: Asmus Tietchens, Das Synthetische Mischgewebe, Aube, Kapotte Muziek, Sudden Infant and the late MSBR (sadly, one of his last concerts was the one in Maastricht). They are placed, fittingly well, together with some new kids on the block: Arnoud Rivière, Meta Orcha, incite/, Thuth, Ex.Zero and (of course) Feedback Society. I should also mention the fieldrecording composition made by Rinus van Alebeek: it deals with chocolate and is really funny (with an odd erotic twist). In conclusion: highly enjoyable record that gives a nice overview of what has been so far, and makes you look forward to the events to come.
Freiband (aka Frans de Waard) was present at the release party for above mentioned double LP. He was asked to speak some words on the history of Audioscoop and the to-be-presented compilation. After the words, followed a Freiband performance and for this event he made a remix of the material present on the double LP. Since I was present at the event I started off with hearing the remix, before I had actually heard the compilation itself. Not that that is very essential, but at that moment I had no recognition of the individual elements - I wasn't even aware of hearing myself back in the live remix! Now that I have notion of the tracks on the double LP I do. To some extent, this composition (divided in three recognizable parts) also follows the mood line of the compilation; changing from subtle sound experiments in the beginning, to a growing noisier outburst in the middle and collagesque elements throughout and towards the end. Quite an exciting piece and a nice accompaniment to the compilation! (SDT)

Only two weeks ago we were introduced to the music of K.E. Revis, who started to release his music for the first time in 2007, but who had been around for years dabbling around. Here he sent us a slightly older release, the first from 2007 and a most recent one. 'Banishing Anxieties' is the older one, and has four super long tracks, almost spanning the entire eighty minutes of the CDR. Revis tells us that 'both (are) quite different from each other and from the previous one you reviewed'. That is true, but the differences are not that big. Come to think of it: I am not sure if I could tell they are from Revis, if you wake me up and asked me this all important question. On the 2007 release there is a touch more ambient sounds going on. But it's ambient with a small 'a' and a lot of industrial music influences. Using keyboards, sometimes to be recognized and sometimes not, as the main source of music, there is also quite a lot of sound effects applied here, which is of course o.k. had it not been that the sound gets quite blurry. That is a pity since with some more creative mixing guess things would have certainly improved, as the fourth (untitled) piece proofs - the best of the lot.
On 'Letting Go', Revis explores the noise route more. Shorter tracks and more this time around. Here too things dwell extensively on the use of sound effects, albeit in a more gritty manner. Right from the start things explode, rumble and distort, but in an odd way Revis actually composes more with the sounds at hand. On his other releases it's more like a free flow of sound, here he tries to compose music with the components at hand. Perhaps I heard a bit too much noise in my days to get overtly excited about this, but this is actually his best release yet. Maybe apply the composing methods to his other, more ambient oriented music, and turn out a really great release. (FdW)

Following his long string of 3" releases Machinefabriek is now expanding more and more his horizon and ready to take over the world. To reach that goal, Machinefabriek collaborates with others, such as Freiband, Stephen Vitiello or in person with Ralph Steinbrüchel. A mere two weeks ago, Rutger Zuydervelt was in Zürich to play a concert and did a concert with Steinbrüchel, all based on samples from Machinefabriek's 'Stofstuk', of which he also released a double CD with remixes. In twenty two minutes the two stretch out the music into a wealthy tapestry of sound, with a big gigantic flow underneath and on top things flow in and out of the mix. There is a certain roughness to the music that no doubt has to do with the fact that this is a live recording, but its a roughness that I quite like. It keeps the listener attention, and presents him from lulling asleep, which might have done when it was a more subtle studio version. Heavy mood music for heavy moods. Spacious but with a strong bite. (FdW) Address:

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