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Vital Weekly 623

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LID EMBA & BOBCRANE - WE SUBSTITUTE RADIANCE (CD by Stickfigure)
Sometimes a cover doesn't look that promising, or, rather has the promise of something else. If the names of Lid Emba and Bobcrrane doesn't mean anything to you, like they did nothing for me, the cover of their CD 'We Substitute Radiance' looks like an improvised music release. But it's not. Or not really. The two guys, who are called Sean Moore (a.k.a. Lid Emba) and Ryan Huber (a.k.a. Bobcrane, also as Vopat and Olekranon) have never met, but send their sound files back and forth through the net. The cover doesn't mention details as to the instruments used, but the six tracks are heavy with rhythms, guitars and electronics. At one point in time, when music came together under the diverse banner of Isolationist music, the dark ambient met up with the harsh dubby rhythm in the works of Kevin Martin with Techno Animal. It's here where Lid Emba and Bobcrane found their inspiration to expand further on these themes. Loud, not too fast beats, inspired by dub, but rockin not reggea-ing. On top of this they spin a hot bed of electronics, that sometimes float along nicely to the rhythms but then at other times collides like floating masses of ice on to the rhythm. Not exactly new, but since I can't remember sticking any Techno Animal on, this is certainly bringing back good memories. Nice one indeed, despite the cover that says something else. (FdW) Address: http://www.stickfigurerecords.com

NADJA & NETHERWORLD - MAGMA TO ICE (CD by Fario)
French label Fario is not very active: this is their tenth release in about as many years. The label is an off shoot of the excellent (but en Francais) magazine Fear Drop, whose only goal seems to release a CD with the meeting of two artists. They present each a couple of solo pieces and one collaborative piece. Lopez & Roden, Troum & Christian Renou, Rapoon & Desaccord Majeur and Vromb & Telepherique went ahead (among others) and here it's the turn for Alessandro Tedeschi, also known as Netherworld, and owner of the Glacial Movements label and Aidan Baker and Leah Buckareff, from Canada and best known as Nadja. Netherworld's three pieces are an excellent sound example of his own label: glacial movements. A very apt description. Still music of slow moving, utter deep movements. A turtle moves faster I think. A deep bass rumble in 'Closing To A Glacial Dawn'. Sounds like Biosphere or early Thomas Köner, but surely with a fine twist of his own, apparently all made with snippets of classical music. I skipped the collaboration to save that until the end and first heard the piece by Nadja, which spans nineteen minutes. A giant explosion takes place, and it sounds like a 180 degrees turn around from the Netherworld tracks. Yet that is only deceiving the listener. Yes, Nadja is much louder, but it's the same side of the ambient at work here: long sustaining sounds, feeding through effects, creating a ringing effect in your ear. Absense of rhythm is noted. How exactly their collaborative effort was recorded is a bit unclear but both ends meet up well here. There is the glacier like sounds of Netherworld, amplified of course to compete with the harsher sounds of Nadja, who mix in their own blend of guitars and electronics. Placed as the fourth track on the CD it makes perfect sense, forming a perfect bridge between the trio of silence of Netherworld and the solo outburst of Nadja. A perfect collaboration. (FdW) Address: http://www.feardrop.net/fario.html

THOMAS WATKISS - ANCESTOR PHASE 1: SILENCE (CD by The Seventh Media)
The title suggests a series, and that is quite so. 'Silence' is phase one of Ancestor, next year we'll have 'Machine' as phase two and 'Memory' in 2010. I never heard of Thomas Watkiss, born in 1979, who is a musician and a painter. "He uses various materials and tools in creating organic and abstract movements dealing with themes of war and post-industrial reality", so we read on his website. On the music front he has has worked with bands as Stigmata and The Hunter, JAW and Thoel:eme, none of which I never heard. He studied both in Pittsburgh and Stockholm, which may count for the fact that he is going to tour America and Scandinavia. His first 'Ancestor' album is announced to be falling into various genres, such as 'ambient, art metal, avant-garde, dark ambient, drone, experimental, field recordings, instrumental, minimalist noise, rock alternative, soundscape and sound art', which is indeed quite an impressive list, but just what is 'art metal' or what is 'alternative rock' is a bit hard to figure out. The twelve pieces on his album are best put down as 'dark ambient'. Watkiss plays bass, guitar, effects and all sorts of computer trickery, and he created quite a nice album with this tools. Not something that is top of the line new or unexpected, but in his music one can hear the historical overview of all things ambient since the inception of the genre by Brian Eno, but with a strong emphasis on the darker textures and moods, say in the field were Lustmord meets Vidna Obmana - dark but not too black, light but not a sun. Watkiss plays his material with great elegance and a likewise great eye for production. (FdW)
Address: http://www.thomaswatkiss.net

COH - COH PLAYS COSEY (CD by Raster Music)
Somehow Ivan Pavlov, a.k.a. Coh always manages to work with the best. Before it was Coil now it's Cosey Fanni Tutti, whose voice Coh recorded to create new music. "Coh plays Cosey deals with concepts of honesty, trust, privacy, communication as well as (perception of) sexuality". Which seems to me a bit far fetched, because the voices may make words, but Coh cuts them up into small rhythmic blocks, and transforms them: pitching them down and up, adds a deep bass like bump to it. Very much the click and cuts approach that Raster Music is known for. Sometimes a ballad like approach such as in 'Sin-king' and sometimes a more 'danceable' approach, such as in 'Near You', which was a great track and very much Chris & Carter like. All is nice and sweet, even perhaps private or intimate, but I must admit the album couldn't satisfy me for its entire duration. The material was too similar, even within the given range of ballad and dance (my own classifications!), and Coh's techniques to transform the sound also was too similar. Nice for a couple of tracks but all nine was a bit too much for me. One wished for something entirely different to happen, a totally odd element, but that doesn't happen. As said: a smaller dosis of this is quite fine. (FdW) Address: http://www.raster-noton.net

BEEHATCH (CD by Lens Records)
From their days in Vancouver, Phil Western and
Mark Spybey knew eachother. They were members of Skinny Puppy follow up Download. That was ten years ago. Western went onto to work in Download more and then with Cevin Key in Plateau and Spybey worked as Dead Voices On Air, Propeller and Reformed Faction with Robin Storey. Western lives in Los Angeles and Spybey in London, but through the use of the internet they managed to record a collaborative album, away from expensive studios. But also away from personal contact, which is a pity, since I would doubt if they had actually worked together in one room, the result would have been as diverse as they are here. Spanning ambient textured mood music, to drum and bass to a techno balled and then another piece of ambient music. Let's suppose they were together while recording this, wouldn't they have said to eachother, 'so what do we want with this album?', or 'how should it sound?'. Maybe they had this discussion, through mail, and maybe the outcome was to make such a diverse album, but it seems to me an album where each of the players wanted his own preferred sound and the other thought it was fine to do so, but without considering if this would have made a consistent album. Now there are tracks that great, or perhaps I should say: all tracks are great, but they don't fit together. At least not to these ears. Much rhythm, compared to many of Spybey's earlier works. Received with mixed feeling. (FdW)
Address: http://www.lensrecords.com

LITTLE THINGS (CD compilation by Flau)
Saturday night sometimes ends sunday morning, which means sunday morning no longer exists, until waking up, but that's usually in the early afternoon. Then a big question arises: what music are we to play on that occasion? Something quiet for sure, but there is always the Vital pile waiting to be heard. I grab 'Little Things' because the description sounds nice. Something about 'tiny home made music of breathtaking acoustic sounds [...] by brilliant local and foreign artists of new generation around the world'. That surely sounds fine enough for an early sunday afternoon. We recognize some of the names, such as Jasper Leyland, Aus, Hood, F.S. Blumm but there is also Kira Kira, Rachael Dadd, Radicalfashion, Marla Hansen, Cokiyu, The Boats, patten and so much more. While I glaze outside and watch clouds pass by (or is that my imagination?) I realize I hate writing about compilations. One can never justify with a few words the extent of the compilation and what it is all about. Maybe I'm too tired on a sunday afternoon to devote any serious time to writing words for Vital Weekly. Hence I write these words on a monday morning, a true morning, fully awake and present. I still think the compilation is quite nice, though not entirely music I would want to hear now. My point being this: the appreciation of music is very much part of your mood, part of the day and many more conditions. 'Little Things' is a great compilation, and will be on the pile for the next time when waking up in a state of too much to drink and too little to sleep. Might be tomorrow actually. (FdW) Address: http://www.flau.jp

NICOLA RATTI - FROM THE DESERT CAME SALTWATER (CD by Anticipate)
For me a new name, Nicola Ratti, who releases his debut on Anticipate. Ratti is a multi-instrumentalist and architect. His main instruments are guitars and percussion with a bit of voices and a bit of electronics. Everything is recorded in a straight forward fashion, but everything is also multi-layered. Sometimes he uses open chords to play his music, sometimes clustered tones creating an almost drone like atmosphere such as in 'Voluta Musica'. A bit like the recent release by Andrea Belfi, even when Ratti's music seems to be using more layers than Belfi. Open like the desert, freely improvised, but played with care. There is perhaps a bit too much use of reverb to suggest the open space, but throughout it was quite an alright disc. Nothing special, but nice enough. (FdW) Address: http://www.anticipaterecordings.com

BRAIN AGRO - PROCESSION OF ORNAMENTS (CD by Percaso)
CHRISTOPH GALLIO - MÖSIÖBLÖ - AMPLE FOOD (CD by Percaso)
A third CD by Percasso of Agro's piano music. rom 1989 dates "In A Hole in the Ice" with
Katharina Weber interpreting compositions of Agro composed between 1980 and 1988.
The second CD 'Poems and Preludes' (2001) presented his latest works for solo piano, this time performed by Tomas Bächli. Bächli is also the performer on the new CD by Agro, again a collection of solo piano pieces. Recorded in 2006 in Berlin, the city where canadian-born Agro most of the time lives. Agro keeps his work miles away from any modern musical trend, but he seeks his place in orientation with the western classical music tradition. Especially french music from the time of Satie, Ravel, an others come to my mind. Most compositions pass by in a calm mood. They sound simple and are very accessible. They are however cleverly and carefully constructed, where every note is to the point.
Also the new CD by Gallio is more close to modern classical music then to jazz. He composed a suite made up of 92 small pieces, not one longer then 60 seconds. Prominent are the vocals of Sylvia Nopper, who sings with classically trained voice. Gallio plays soprano and alto saxes, Marino Pilakas (from Steamboat Switzerland) guitar and Thomas Eckert plays clarinet and bassclarinet. All of them we hear throughout this album, assisted by a few other musicians in some of the pieces. The miniatures are played very sensitive and with taste. The arrangements are crystal clear. Beautiful simple music. Gallio took inspiration from the poetry of Robert Filliou for this work. Each composition is named after a question that Gallio took from the work of Filliou and Sylvia Nopper sings them. The voice of Nopper is okay, however I often had difficulties in understanding what she exactly is singing. But let that be the only minor point for this excellent cd. (Dolf Mulder) Address: http://www.percaso.ch/

HELMUT SCHÄFER & ZBIGNIEW KARKOWSKI - EMINENT RISK FACTOR (CD by Alku)
Last year Helmut Schäfer took his own life, a fact that didn't make it in Vital Weekly. A quick search learned me that we only once reviewed his music, in Vital Weekly 168, when he released 'Disruptor' with Zbigniew Karkowski on Or (a sub division of Touch in those days). From whatever sparse information I could find, Schäfer was one 'of the noise guys', with a strong love for the loud mayhem and motor like sounds, but always backed up with some intelligent idea. I believe he built some of the devices he used himself. In 1997 he met Karkowski for the first time, and probably 'Disruptor' was their first joint release. In October 2006 they met up again, but this time for the last time to play some concerts, in Graz and Bratislava. This is now released. It's a combination of the live recordings and studio doodling they did together. I believe this is a microphone recording, which doesn't entirely justify the music. The music consists mainly of very deep end rumblings which pushes away the air if you turn up the volume. High end is almost not apparent in these recordings. It scratches the surface, but doesn't fly over it. Even when I think sound wise there would have been more possible than this, I must say that the music is quite captivating. A crude form of drone music, Joe Colley alike, this is a fine example where drone and noise can meet up. A solid farewell from Schäfer. (FdW) Address: http://personal.ilimit.es/principio/

RMX COMPILATION'S VERSUS 1 VS 2- KIF_SOUP (CDR by Kif Recordings)
I'm a little uncertain as to just what is going on here, even to the title!- back in VW608 a review of Ten Seconds Compilation appeared- some 71 - 10 second tracks from various artists- this CDr *seems* to be "a hybrid" from two such compilations - where each was remixed - by Animal Machine / Cygore & Eraritjaritjaka / Animal Machine as the blurb says "remix 1 vs. remix 2 = SOUP" do you follow? If so you are probably doing better than me. KIF - Keep it frozen "is a non -profit music label , distributor specialized in micro & mini tracks recordings" responsible for this very interesting reduction / deconstruction of the compilations. I'm not fond of compilations as I'm averse to serial events like a many coursed meal - for one the cutlery is confusing - here the result is a soup- everything is present in the resultant 20:39 - so only a spoon is required- it is a
mixture of many lo-fi noise sources at a fairly ambient texture which makes for a coherent context in which the pieces now separated from their teleological menu co-exist - re-act - and play as a homogenous yet rhizomic whole. A long, slow implosion of sounds. The important thing here then is the re-generation by the co-operative forces at work which makes something both in its audio presence and conceptualization significant and very worthwhile. BTW KIF are accepting contributions for comp #3- but I will look forward more to the hopeful synthesized soup #2. (jliat) Address: http://www.freewebs.com/kifrecording/

CHROMASCOPE - THERE IS A SMITHS FAN THAT NEVER GOES OUT (CDR by Silken Tofu)
GOGHAL - BLASTEMEA (3"CDR by Silken Tofu)
HUMAN LARVAE - THE ODOUR OF LOVE (3"CDR by Silken Tofu)
I believe Silken Tofu so far released only 3"CDRs in lovely neat boxes but here is Chromascope, also known as Brandon Malzahn. And certainly not to be ignored: a guy with some sense of humor (rare thing in the serious world of Silken Tofu, I think). The first piece is called 'Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others, And They're All On Myspace'. Luckily the humor doesn't stand in the way of the music. This is the second release by Chromascope on Silken Tofu, following 'Sleep Paralysis' (see Vital Weekly 535). Gone are the many sound effects and that's great. The pieces here are made with long sustaining sounds, played on synthesizers (I think), which form interesting ambient industrial drones. Malzahn adds sparsely electronics to the material as to spice things up, so that the material is evolving in a straight forward manner. Minimal but with all the right moves and changes to keep things interesting. A major step forward this one.
Following last week's release that Goghal did with Amputation Desire, here's a solo release by him (her?) and it sounds like he's the quiet mind in the collaboration. The nineteen minute piece is a loud ambient/quiet noise piece that builds up carefully, reaches its peak with driving pulse beat (one pulse only; more Pan Sonic than Carl Cox) and then breaks down as elegantly as the built, with sounds washing away in the mix. The rhythmic drive is quite nice and adds a great texture to the piece. Very nice work.
Whoever Human Larvae is I don't know, but he/she/they work from the harsh noise perspective, at least for the bigger part of their track. I must admit I am rather taken by the piece on this piece which moves between the noise blocks, which has a dark line on the synthesizer and a snippet from a film ('i love you', 'I love you too'), until the Con-dom like vocals kick back in. The two noise parts, beginning and ending, reminded me very much of Con-dom anyway, either in 'singing' and the way the electronics are handled. Very straight forward power electronics. As such not much new, but it's nice enough, certainly if, for me, this is not a daily digest anymore - that was twenty years ago. (FdW) Address: http://www.silkentofu.org

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