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Vital Weekly 622

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"Oahu" starts out this Dutch Meeting of the Giants with a introduction only little more then a minute, but it's important for the rest of the album as it not only delivers the sound material for what comes after, as also the title for the album. Oahu is the third-biggest island of Hawaii, and from it comes an acoustic lapsteel guitar, played on the first track by Martin Luiten. The two tracks following this are made in email collaboration between Frans de Waard (Freiband) and Rutger Zuydervelt (Machinefabriek), with both doing one of the final mixes. It's great to see these two generations of Dutch sound sculptors on one album, and I guess they fuel each other's interest in doing something extra good to avoid looking like the young novice and the old professor. Which is good for us, the listeners. It takes the 2.1 version about nine minutes before I can make out the lapsteel source material, and even then it's only through belief. It comes back clearly at the end, but before that must've come about ten different passages and intervals that follow each other up without any obvious structure. Which still doesn't take away any of the excitement of the track. A sign of mastery I guess. The last track is more cohesive, and also maybe a bit more contemporary (although it's a 2001-contemporary maybe, with a sound that is suspended between Tim Hecker-y ambient grit and almost sacred tonal float). Here also, after 14 minutes of relative bliss, the guitar comes back in for some grounding. Especially beautiful is it when the glitchy floor boards fall away with only the stereo-divided guitar joined by some humming. Great to see what these two do in their respective final mixes, it might just be coincidence, but they do stamp their own vision on each of their own mixes. Amazing material. Now step two would be an album completely done together. I would be delighted to hear that... (Robert Meijer) Address:

BEEQUEEN - SANDANCING (CD by Important Records)
Beequeen is the long running collaboration between Dutch music veterans Frans de Waard and Freek Kinkelaar. The duo mainly focused on ambient and industrial music during the nineties, until their album 'Ownliness', back in 2002, which marked a more or less radical break with Beequeen's past. Since 'Ownliness' the music of Beequeen has shifted to well crafted electronic pop songs. 'Sandancing' is no exception. It's an atmospheric and dreamy album due to the beautiful (female) vocals of Olga Wallis.
The songs are built on electronics, guitar and keyboard, combined with fine microsonic details, pulsing drum machines and subtle field recordings. It can easily be seen as a rather accessible record, especially considering Beequeens past, but 'Sandancing' hides enough surprises to keep it exciting. It somehow reminds me of the early works of Piano Magic, the project of Glen Johnson, who also used to work with different vocalists to transform his electronic instrumentals into songs. Being aware of the adventurous approach of these experimental wizards, you immediately wonder what Beequeens next record will be like. But you certainly hope that Olga Wallis will be involved again as 'Sandancing' is definitely their best record to date. (Maurice Woestenberg) Address:

Two veterans from the Montréal musicscene present their newest work.
For her new project Diane Labrosse invited the following musicians: Marie-Soleil Bélanger (violin), Jean Derome (flute, fake trumpet), Bernard Falaise (electric guitar), Lori Freedman (clarinet), Jean René (viola), Pierre Tanguay (percussion). Labrosse herself plays accordion. It is a sort of conceptalbum. In 8 compositions she makes use of concrete noises we all know from our daily lives: clocks, telephones, printers, answering machines, etc. Without any manipulation these sounds are integrated in a musical background, by which she tries to evoke a story and atmosphere around these sounds. One could call it a non verbal radioplay, a sonic story that in a way moves along a narrative line. In each composition we hear only one or few musicians. We never hear an ensemble playing. "This disc was entirely assembled without the consent of the musicians playing on it. I thank them for agreeing to record "blindfolded" and let me manipulate them as I pleased" Labrosse explains. So these compositions are probably the result of a lot of editing, etc. This way she has built nice impressionistic, soundscaping pieces. They are carefully structured, with a good feeling for balance and atmosphere.
Jean Derome returns with another CD with his Dangereux Zhoms. After a silence of ten years, now the fourth cd by this ensemble sees the light after 'Carnets De Voyage' (1994), 'Navré' (1995), and 'Torticolis' (1998). With Tom Walsh (trombone), Guilaume Dostaler (piano), Pierre Cartier (electric bass) , Pierre Tanguay (drums) and Derome himself on saxes and flute, we are 65 minutes entertained with new compositions by Derome. A music that is most close to jazz, but that is above all in between everything. With plenty of room for improvisation the music always stays in the neighborhood of the themes that Derome composed. After so many records out Derome does not surprise with something completely new, but satisfies with a very well-crafted new work by a fine ensemble. Impressive I found the solo of Derome in the last 24-minute composition 'Prières', were he cries his heart out. Honest music. (Dolf Mulder)

A new CD from the small Fuller Street Music label, specialized in jazz and improvised music. This time they give room to guitarist Kevin Frenette to make his first step with his quartet. It has Andy McWain on piano, Todd Keating playing bass and Tatsuya Nakatani on percussion. Frenette studied guitar, composition, and music theory and has performed throughout the Northeast of the USA with people like Jack Wright, Dan DeChellis, Michael Snow and many others. Always in the corner of modern improvised and avant garde music. With his quartet he presents seven collective improvisations, recorded in august 2006. Their music is constantly moving with a restless speed and intensity and seems to drift in every possible direction at first hearing. Especially the guitarist tries to play as many notes as possible. But repeated listening makes clear that these improvisations are very focused and that the improvisors know where they are heading at. All the lines and patterns they play are woven into consistent improvisations. In many surprising ways, this is intelligently interconnected music. Technically all of them are very advanced and the interplay of the four is very good. All four play in function of the whole. Bassist Keating is not very prominent but probably essential in holding it together. Percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani, originally from Japan, uses, so to hear, an extended set of percussion and learned his techniques from very different backgrounds: folk, jazz, new music, etc. Of all four, his playing surprised me most. He has always an answer, and always a different one. He adds many colors and makes these improvisations multi-dimensional. The playing of Frenette on the other hand could be more pronounced from time to time. His style comes definitely from the world of jazz, which is also the case for the pianist. But as the percussionist abandoned the swing, these improvisations never become pure jazz. To conclude, this quartet offers some very rich improvisations. There is a lot to hear and to discover. An excellent work. (Dolf Mulder) Address:

ONDO - MAHAVISNU (CD on Paradigm Recordings)
Recently (Vital Weekly 617) we were introduced to the music of C-J Larsgarden, also known as Ondo, through a 3"CDR called 'Shields', a piece for drone like guitars and a bit of drums. Now, on a real CD, released by Paradigms Recordings (not to be confused with Paradigm, I guess, UK's home of improvised music) eight new tracks, which Ondo describes as a fusion between 'Earth, Raison D'Etre and a touch of Fennesz', which is certainly nice found and also not much beside the point. Larsgarden's music is quite dark, with lots of deep, atmospheric sounds, running like undercurrents underneath (let's say the Earth influence), but on top there is always a small melody or small melodic touch to be found. Sometimes on piano, sometimes on guitar - that might be the Raison D'Etre influence (if anyone remembers this Cold Meat Industry band). Fennesz is a bit harder to spot but with a certain flair you find it through the some of the production, certainly when it starts to sound a bit more digital. Quite a nice soundtrack to a horror film this one, to which I have one minor objection: the tracks sound a bit too similar at times. The heavy banging, the dark drone, the melodic touch, the built up of tracks and the noise bits - there is a bit too much uniformity in these pieces. But served in smaller portions: quite nice indeed. (FdW)

As far as I remember, we drove through Hollywood once, but perhaps not on Hollywood Boulevard, so we didn't see the star pavement. It wasn't, for sure, on August 26th, 2006, when Akira Rabelais stood between the stars of Betty Grable and Rod Serling and made this recording. Grable was an American dancer, singer and actress who died in 1973 and Serling was a screenwriter from the sixties, who died in 1975. Not really iconic names these days, me thinks. But in the work of Akira Rabelais almost anything is possible. Not visible on the surface, but hidden somewhere deep down, with all sorts of meaning and various layers of that preferably. So Rabelais stood there for a solid hour with his recorder and recorded the street, people passing and talking. Bits of music flash by, various languages and all the time the listener, not present there, in some if not many cases even never been there at all, keep wondering: why? Why am I supposed to be hearing this? What is the significance of me hearing this, and why these two stars? Is there going to happen anything at all here or is this it? (I won't spoil the fun there). Much of what Rabelais does is a big mystery. Visit his website and you know what I am talking about. The modern day minimalist and conceptualist, infiltrating on all levels (music, art, website, but also building his own eccentric software), makes another point. It's up to you whether to make up if you think it's a good or weak point. I made up my mind, but not giving it out in print. (FdW)

Last week we had a Steve Peters release to review and here's another one. Long time nothing and now a small flood. Which is great, since 'The Webster Cycles' couldn't be much further away from 'Filtered Light', from last week. That was an entirely electronic work, whereas 'The Webster Cycles' is 'intended for any combination of wind instruments or voices', and is here performed by J.A. Deane for six trombones. The work was already composed in 1980-1981 and this recording is from 1998 - but music is timeless, I guess. Through overdubbing, Deane recorded this almost thirty minutes of music. Inspired by Webster's dictionary, words become pitch sequences or melodic phrases that are to be played within the duration of a long breath. Deane plays long sustaining sounds on his trombone, I guess with a long breath, and the result is a gorgeous, minimal piece with very slow changes. Unlike say Phill Niblock, the sounds are there to die out, beyond their sustain. Breathing space is kept inside, which adds a solemn character to the piece. Solemn and spacious, this is. Ambient music without any electronic means (rather than multi-track recording that is), or so it seems, close to the original ideas of Eno. Subtle music for late evenings. (FdW)

The one time Jessica Bailiff played in Nijmegen, I missed out, so I never heard her music, which has been around for a decade or so. Apparently she plays drone like music and very slowfolk songs. Here she teams up with the for me likewise unknown Annelies Monsere who is a multi-instrumentalist from Gent, Belgium. Each of the women supplies two songs. Sparsely instrumented these four songs, only in 'Shadow' there seems to be more happening than just a bit of guitar strumming. They sing their songs rather held back, not shouting their emotions out, but distilled, frail and no doubt very personal. Music like this, which reminded me of Fovea Hex, but a lot simpler, more sparse, is never really my cup of tea but these four tracks, however brief they are, is something I quite enjoyed. A great relaxing atmosphere comes from these four songs and as such they were refreshing or uplifting. (FdW)

BILLY BAO - ACCUMULATION (7" by Xerox Musik)
The fact that Billy Bao is a band is something that might not have escaped you. It's the man with the same name on vocals, Mattin on guitar, Xabier Erkizia on guitar and Alberto Lopez on drums. Ten one minute tracks on the 7" 'Accumulation', dealing with excess richness and the growth of capital. Like a flow chart, the titles get longer and longer, until 'While Watching Their Stocks Rise, Your Miserable Fucking Life Dies' - welcome to politically inspired music. The band plays minimal strokes, but banging rather than introvertly played, but don't sound like a punk band. Their recording seems to be of an even more lo-fi nature than what is common in this area. There is a very consistent element through running through this music, with is more like a piece of 'art', than a 'political' statement, despite what the liner notes try to tell you. Quite a nice piece of gesamtkunstwerk. (FdW) Address:

Not much is known about James Taylor (assuming it's not the older one), which is "50% of the mature house duo Swayzak", and who here operates as Lugano Fell, as there isn't much on his website at myspace. He could do with some more friends, I think, and his release 'Right Side Defect' is worth hearing. The six pieces here show a distinct love for digital sound manipulation that includes tags as 'drone', 'glitch' and 'shoegazing'. No instruments were to be detected here as they are all dully transformed using the computer. Sustaining sounds, clicks that work as rhythms and lots of effects (outboard or inboard) to feed them through. A gritty, granulated sound with small melodic blocks that work well in their warm bed of drones. The shoegazing aspect lies more in the extensive use of distortion an chorus effects. It's not really ambient glitch like: the music is too loud to pass on as such. Think Tilliander's later work and you get the idea. Not really top new, but executed with great care. It would have been nice on a real label, and not disappear as a private release. (FdW) Address:

Neither Amputation Desire and Goghal ran any bell in this dazed head that is here today, and from the cover I understand that this is a matter of bouncing back and forth sound material. The result is two long tracks of say twenty some minutes each which are very opposite works to eachother. The second piece is a long noise beast, but lacks any imagination to make things even remotely interesting. Which is a pity since the other track is a nice dark ambient industrial piece of music, which isn't entirely new either but at least sounds pretty decent, shifting through various textures and moods in the darkest realm of life. Like said, nothing new under the sun either, but it's a nice piece. For my part they could have easily made two such pieces. (FdW) Address:

TETSUYA HORI (CDR by Naiv Super)
I never heard of Tetsuya Hori, who was born in Sapporo, Japan, where he studied and teached piano and composition. Since 2003 he lives in Berlin where he composes and improvises. The three compositions here all deal with laptop and real time sounds: one with a beer bottle, one with a glass of water and one with flute. Only the latter is played by somebody else that Hori. From whatever he does with the objects or
instruments, the sound is being picked up by the laptop and processed as such. He does that in a very gentle way. It's not hard to recognize the original source - if you ever had a glass of water or ever blown into a beer bottle, but the sounds that are unfolded from the computer are delicate and elegant. Hori is not a man to blow you to pieces, unlike some of his country men. Surely this can be easily classified as microsound and as such is not necessarily offers a new strategy, but within the field he certainly does some interesting things. Ambient laptop doodling with a strong love for the electro-acoustic treatment.
Saxophone player Antoine Chessex has been reviewed here with some pretty strong improvised playing recorded in a live situation. Here too its a live recording, made in the Electronic Church in Berlin. Chessex technique is circular breathing so that he can make sustained tones that make small drones. When he and the Naiv Super team went into the church it was stone cold and it took him an hour to warm up the saxophone, but the recording session was too cold, so every caught a cold. However what was recorded sounded great and that is what we find on this tape. Five pieces of nice deep drone like saxophone sounds, which keep on evolving. Although no doubt one instrument is heard at a time it sounds like more. Chessex moves around, slightly thus cleverly using the space he's in to alter the sound. Move around your own space for more alterations. This is a great work, strong music with a conceptual edge. Should be good to see this live one day. (FdW) Address:

The new Italian label Incudine Records just released three CDR releases, on 5" CDR, but none of these last longer than twenty minutes, which made me think: why not on 3" CDRs, or perhaps all together on one CDR. Their mission statement seems to be written with the dictionary at hand: "It deals with hybrids, with solitary places kept hidden, intimate and solipsistic environments to which look as small treasures to protect". The first release is by Dominique Vaccaro with an improvisation, based on some precorded cassette tapes with short wave, vocals, motors, objects and guitars (at least if I understood the press text correct), which are mixed with the use of sound effects (mainly reverb). It's quite a nice piece of ambient industrial music, which hardly shows the improvised character, which is good I think.
Much louder is the music of Luciano Maggiore, whose 'On Grey' is the 'recording on tape cassette of a performance held inside a broadcast program in Bologna in May 2007'. So the sound going from the radio to cassette to CD is what is the central focus is here. It has 'recordings of arcs and organs' and is quite drone like but pretty harsh at the start, getting 'softer' (relatively speaking) as the piece evolves. Nice but a bit too single minded for my taste.
The best is kept until the last. One Cavaliere (never heard of, just as the other two), combines two recordings: one of swinging bushes in a large space and a metallofono, an electric guitar and a piano. They are combined in various possible combinations. The swinging of the bushes make a strange but effective combination with the sparse tonal qualities of the other instruments. Great intimate music with a nice starting point. (FdW) Address:

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