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Vital Weekly 624

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PGT - TEMPORARY HABITATIONS (CD by Loochtone Recordings)
Last week we discussed The Desert Fathers, a duo of Jeff Kaiser and Gregory Taylor, this week it's PGT, which stands for Terry Pender (mandolin), Brad Garton (laptop) and Gregory Taylor (laptop). Another odd pairing, as last week it was the quartertone trumpet and laptop. The mandolin is not a very common musical instrument in the world of improvised music. I could try and re-do last week's review, as the three pieces here are as long the ones of 'Coptic Icons', plus one more (!), and throughout one could say they lack structure, edit, tension and all such things which can make exciting music. However there is something else on this recording which I do like and that's the 'endless stream' of sound. The mandolin is an instrument that can sustain at length, certainly when fed through a line of echo machines in 'Dome' and it's exactly this that I thought this quite an enjoyable disc of improvised music. An endless flow of sounds, hardly interrupted by musicians that need to show their face, making things go bump all over the place, but a very condensed. layered ambient cake. Structure and such like may not apply here, simply because that is not what they set out to do. The carry away the listeners on an ambient cloud of sound. This time around, not just nice if you saw the show, but also makes much sense at home. (FdW)

NAPALMED - III (CD by Napalmed)
This is my second attempt at a review, the napalmed piece is 80 minutes! One track which begins with 20 minutes of cow bells and gentle swirling noise, rhythms rise and fall *deceptively* pleasantly - at 20 + minutes they begin to hit pans of water and grown all with the reverb and echo which then settles down to much the same cow bell clanging somewhere in a muddy mix, it's 30 minutes now - they are banging on canaries with rusty bicycles - and my eyes are glazing, the canaries don't last long, I think they/we might all be in a sewer, more water, the vague impression of cars above, and a nice bar selling beer and playing Frank Sinatra records. I joke - I wish! But there is no escape. 35 minutes and perhaps some crickets have got flushed down here with us, I long for daylight. There is more machinery, obviously part of the pumping plant, I think the crickets have died - I wish I had, some ooooo ooooooy voice sounds, half way and still clank clank, more rhythmic machinery (napalmed iii comes is a pyramid foldout thing - I'm saying this - hell knows why?) What seems like day 28 and I've lost the will to live.... and on it goes. (napalmed claim to be harsh noise - a war of attrition - they are wining) it seems I've been listening for months, I've chewed off all my toes and fingers on my left hand, typing with one of the fingers on my right, still another rhythmic pumping plant. I think I can hear the sounds of trams far above - I no longer believe the sky is blue - I'm probably GOING MAD. 50 minutes - seems like years - another outflow of sewage and more machinery muffled and in the distance, does anyone know a good joke.. And on they clank, its now 60 minutes which means 20 more to go, I could just write a short review and say it's a remarkable piece and hit the stop button. My life is over - has run its course, slowly the earth spins into the sun, black holes eat up the remains of dead stars and still this clank clank clank. Aghhhhhhhhhhhh! (jliat)

A new label from Taiwan, of all places, release a CD by one Marc Namblard, 'sound artist and naturalist living in the northeast of France', and he has the same fascinating as I had, but I never made a recording of it. Across my parents house there was a small pond and in the winter it was sometimes frozen. If you would take a branch and hit the surface it made a very nice sound, one that is not easy to describe, but as soon as I started playing Namblard's 'Chants Of Frozen Lakes', it all came back, it's exactly that same sound. Recorded in on one day, but perhaps with some cross fading, some interesting things happen. We hear ducks, along with 'pulses' of crackles in the ice, but over the course of fifty-five minutes things grow immensely intense and expand. Indeed, towards the end like a chant of icy sounds. Winter may be no more, not at least in this part of Europe, so sounds like this will become rare to experience in nature. However, when I have an option, I stay inside, turn up the heater a bit, and enjoy Namblard's work as it's absolutely great. It sounds both 'natural' as well as electronical, oddly enough. A very fine work of true soundscaping. (FdW) Address:

Perhaps it's because I'm old(er) that I sometimes sit behind my computer and wonder about all the things that a modern computer can do: play music, send e-mail, browse internet, write a book or make a movie. All these different things and we seldom realize, perhaps we do but never enough, that all of these 'different' things are made of zeroes and ones, so basically the same sort of information. This is Ikeda's fascination in his multimedia project 'Datamatics', of which 'Test Pattern', following 'Dataplex', is his second release. Ikeda transfers data (text, sound, photo's, movies) into 'barcode patterns and binary patterns' and through this conversion the raw data becomes audio files. Not an entirely new idea, I believe Radboud Mens did something alike a long while back, but whereas his result was quite a noise based released, Ikeda's transformations spans sixteen tracks of highly rhythmical music. He keeps cutting his sounds up until they form a dense but groovy rhythmical whole. It's the ultra clean and ultra digital sound that we know and love Ikeda for. Elsewhere in this issue you'll find a review where I complain the pure digital esthetic of a release, but in Ikeda's groovy world it becomes almost minimal dance music. I am warned not to play this very loud, because it could damage my speakers, but I would love to hear this ultra loud with the vibrating bass going like wind through my hair. The sixteen tracks make a flow together, they are not sixteen separate tracks, but rather one piece, 'Test Pattern', in sixteen continuous parts. We are also told that converting this into MP3s may not work, which may lead to the conclusion that hearing this on CD quality is perhaps also not the right thing. Maybe a 24-bit conversion on DVD would the 'real' thing and perhaps it's the next, logical conclusion, is that Ikeda no longer releases CDs, DVDs but we should only go to his concerts or installations to witness the 'real' thing. Luckily its not that far yet, and we have 'Test Pattern' to enjoy on whatever poor installation we have available. Ikeda is still the undisputed master of the scene. (FdW) Address:

We were introduced to the music of Robin Saville in Vital Weekly 606, when we heard his split 7" with Dollboy. Back then it was player piano and rhythm machine, for 'Peasgood Nonsuch' it's more electronic, with synthesizers, rhythm machines, bass, guitar and lots of bell like sounds. What I didn't know back then is that Saville is one half of ISAN, but now I know things make sense here - even more. There is a very nice light touch to this music. Fresh spring time music. I know now too that Saville is a gardener - even more perfect sense here. I can imagine him walking in a garden on a sunny day after a rainy night to find nice smelling flowers and plants and finding inspiration to create his minimal but melodic music. The rhythm machine ticks time away with great ease and Saville waves a path that is mostly light and sometimes dark, such as in 'Colin The Lazy Cormorant (Part Two)' with a somewhat darker drone behind it. But that is an exception. Usually it's pleasantly light music. If you liked ISAN before, or anything where popmusic (for whatever that may be) meets up with modern classical music (say Harold Budd's 'Serpent In Quicksilver', this album is a perfect meeting place. (FdW)

@C - UP, DOWN, CHARM, STRANGE, TOP, BOTTOM (CD by Cronica Electronica)
Miguel Carvalhais and Pedro Tudelo are @C, armed with their laptops they play mostly improvised music. However, important, they don't release improvised music. How is this possible. Their improvisations are restricted for playing together, in a concert like situation, with or without audience. All of the resulting recordings are taken into the studio and used as building blocks for their music. On this, their seventh release, they use recordings from concerts, studio work and field recordings which they recorded over a period of five years and deals mainly with the improvisations they did with others. Sometimes the 'other' was present while everything was played, sometimes the 'other' arrives through the form of a sample. They remove all the 'unwanted' bits of improvisations and use only that which hold the test, and these are used in these four constructions. They are vibrant, lively pieces of musique concrete, sometimes not unlike releases on Empreintes Dgitales, but with a more anarchistic, free approach. The software used is not the what it is about, but it's result, which, as @C say, 'becomes itself, and will become music each time it is played, to everyone and everywhere it is so'. Which I believe is very much true. There is so much happening on every level of this disc, that it requires a few rounds of listening until everything is uncovered and then the 'real' thing starts again: finding the overall picture again. It's a full CD, but one that has a lot to give. Great work. (FdW) Address:

CISFINITUM - TACTIO (CD by Mechanoise Labs)
One of Russia's older forces of all things dark, ambient and at times a bit industrial is the work of Evgeny Voronovsky, who goes by the name of Cisfinitum. He has released his music on Monochrome Vision, Waystyx, Ewers Tonkunst and Drone Records. In November 2005 he played a concert in Bremen in the St. Petri Dom and the recording here presents his music, using both the acoustic environment of the church as well a direct recording of the music. Cisfinitum's music is a blend of synthesized drone/ambient sounds much along the lines of say Lustmord. But to top things of Cisfinitum adds a blend of pulsating sounds, which over the course of the concert becomes to live. First, half way through as church bells but towards the end things are almost minimal techno like pulsating, with a fat drone like synthesizer still heavily in control of the mood. On tape there is the addition also of a baroque violin (an instrument which Evgeny is formally trained in), but that is stretched out to an extent that they fit the drone like capacities of the rest. The six pieces flow into eachother and form one long piece, which is, I must admit, nothing new under the ambient drone sun, but Cisfinitum's work can easily meet the best in the genre, and is one of Russia's biggest talents. (FdW) Address:

QUATOR BOZZINI - CANONS + HOQUETS (CD by Ambiances Magnetiques)
A few years ago Quator Bozzini - the string quartet of the sisters Bozzini - released a cd with 'Different Trains' of Steve Reich. Disappointing nor because of the musicianship of this excellent quartet, nor their interpretation of this work. But why this work, this composer? Personally, I,m not waiting for once again a registration of well-known works from well-known composers. So I,m happy they focus now on not so familiar composers. The cd opens with two works from the english composer Howard Skempton, namely 'Catch' (2001) and 'Tendrils' (2004). Succeeded by three works by Jo Kondo: 'Hypsotony' (1989), 'Fern' (1990) and 'Mr Bloomfield, his Spacing' (1973). Both pieces of Skempton are sweet elegant compositions. Especially 'Catch' with its canonic structure, is a meditative piece drenched in medieval atmospheres. 'Tendrils' meanders pleasantly along, albeit a bit too long.
The works of japanese composer Kondo continue in more or less the same tempo, but in contrast with the compositions of Skempton, Kondo's works are very dissonant from start to finish. This is a interesting selection of compositions. In their similarities and differences they make an inspiring anthology, carrying all the string quartets composed by respectively Skempton and Kondo.
Quartetski Does Prokofiev is a jazz quartet. Bassist Pierre-Yves Martel arranged the 'Visions Fugitive', of Prokofiev for a jazz quartet. Other members of this quartet are Gordon Allen (trumpet), Isaiah Ceccarelli (drums) and Philippe Lauzier (alto and soprano sax, bass clarinet). If I didn't know, I could not have guessed that these compositions are by the hand of Prokofiev or any other composer from this era. This implies that the original music must be very suitable for being transposed to a modern jazz context, or that the arranger and the quartet are very creative in doing so. Probably both are true. In 18 short pieces - most of them about 3-4 minutes - the quartet explores and revives the originals that are even shorter. Prokofiev composed them during the Russian Revolution for piano. They remained at the stage of musical ideas, but prove to be very fitting starting points for improvisation for this very capable quartet. (Dolf Mulder) Address:

On the Equation Records label website there is a lengthy story written by Guido Huebner since long time upon the man behind Das Synthetische Mischgewebe (and one of the few 'old' guys to still guise a band guise, even when he does things solo). It's a long text but it's not a text I understand very well. It explains only halfy what is done on this record and why. It's beautifully packed, as is the usual thing for this label, and there is a 7" and a 12". The correct route is of course side a, side b, side c and then side d. However side a and d are on the LP, whilst b and c are on the 7". The latter is pure Das Synthetische Mischgewebe, with 'sounds set in motion' - no human interference, but things 'around the house' which make sound them selves. I may assume Guido did some cutting and pasting of these events? On the LP Guido is at work as the 'composer' of sounds delivered by The New Blockaders (why isn't this called 'the final collaboration', I thought, but the logic of the Blockaders is not always my logic). The New Blockaders are used to scraping the surface, amplifying acoustic events, hand played that is. If I understood the text correctly there has been no electronic alterations of the sound, but just a 're-organisation' of the sounds (some specially recorded for this project, some from existing releases) - what we would 'composing'. Hubner is the sort of person who is the man who suits the task well. His ears know exactly what to pick out and shape the material to an entirely new form, while maintaining the original sound input of the Blockaders. It's the meeting of the industrialized sounds of the Blockaders, the sharp blocks of sound versus the splicing technique of Huebner - even when that is nowadays done in a digital manner and no longer through analogue tape. A refined work at that and like said, with this label, it's also beautiful packed. (FdW) Address:

MAGNETISM, THAT ELECTRICITY (4x12" by Highpoint Lowlife)
Packed as box of four EPs (here a CDR was provided) comes a release that showcases the various musical directions that the releases by Highpoint Lowlife take these days. Each fills up a record (although I am not sure how the 19 minute track by The Village Orchestra is separated on the vinyl) and there are some interesting and some less interesting things to be spotted around this place. Things start off strong with four tracks by Mandelbrot Set who go off in a post rock direction, with drums, guitars, synthesizers and violins (perhaps only through sampling) playing at times a wild rock tune and in 'Astronomy And Allied Sciences 2a' more an introspective piece of drone music. Fisk Industries on the other hand are purely electronical, with broken hip hop beats, electronics and in 'Rhetoric' a rap that is pushed to the back. Not particularly strong material. The Village Orchestra play a rather epic piece of music, starting out in a desolate landscape but land in a techno party of pulsating beats and swirling electronics, before landing in the chill out zone again. The Marcia Blaine School For Girls just love the discotheque here, with rhythms that push around and in 'Bottle Stain' offer a strong Chain Reaction like piece. So Fisk Industries didn't get me going, but the other three delivered quite nice material, from the rock stage and the dance floor and Highpoint Lowlife is once again providing the soundtrack for alternative dance spaces. (FdW)

Already Greg Headley's ninth release, the sixth on his own 28angles label. Much of the work here is inspired by a trip he did to Eastern Europe in summer of 2007. If I understand his words correctly this new work is a bit different than the previous ones, which were more the direct taping of results, whereas this new one involved more extensive mixing, taking up more time in the final shaping of the music. As before Headley plays guitar and software instruments to transform the sounds made on the six strings. It's however not easy to recognize the guitar all the time. Sometimes it's pretty obvious, but sometimes Headley manages to make it sound like the crackle of short/long wave or thunderous like a hurricane or airplane flying over. Dynamics play an important role in the six pieces on this release. Sometimes deceivingly sweet and mellow, but it's the silence before the thunder breaks out. It's move from much of his previous work which stayed more on one volume level and was throughout more ambient. In some ways the previous release 'There Comes A Violent Love/Pulse' still remains an anomaly in his work - with his modern classical approach - and '24-carat Abnormalities' sees him returning to his guitar phase, but with the addition of dynamics as a new strong point. That previous one was a highlight in his career, perhaps mainly for being so different than the others, but this new one, while moving outside his tradition again and remaining a similar approach to musical equipment, is also a standout work. Quite a mature and carefully planned work! (FdW) Address:

CLAUDIO ROCHETTI - HARRISONFORD (cassette by Deadtracks Records)
One of the three myths of Claudio Rochetti (one of the members of 3/4Hadbeeneliminated) is Harrison Ford. Another one is David Lee Roth and whoever the third is we don't know yet. A dedication to David Lee Roth was released by Long Long Chaney. Here it's 'Harrisonford'. On one side we hear the voice of Kenji Siratori set against a organ like drone. The voice is not distorted as with some other Siratori projects, but hard to understand. The instrumental b-side is also based on drones, but louder. A dishwasher or some such is fed through some effects. Quite an industrial piece of music, but it sounds quite nice. Pretty nice release, the first on Deadtracks Records, and we wonder how long this label will exist, since rumor has it that cassettes will disappear from the market next year, which, me thinks, is a great pity. (FdW)

The complete Vital Weekly is available at: Vital Weekly

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