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Vital Weekly 625

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CHOP SHOP - OXIDE (CD by 23Five Incorporated)
This filled me with much pleasure, as I never expected this. Towards the end of the 80s and in the early 90s, when we were still firm industrial music lovers, Chop Shop was one of our heroes. Not because he was so incredible loud, but his loudspeaker installations looked raw and sounded good. No, actually they sounded 'rusty', as well as a rusty look. Through his speaker installations Chop Shop, the one man band of Scott Konzelmann fed a blend of decayed sounds, taken from all sorts of machinery, sonic residue taped on cheap cassette tape or reel to reel tape machines. Much more serious in his approach than the average noise maker, Konzelmann was already more a visual artist than a musician. I have no idea why he 'left' the scene, or why we didn't hear his name that much in the last ten years, but it's good to hear 'Oxide'. Salvaged from old, damaged tapes, which caused 'flaking, static, dropouts and print through'. If you never saw or heard a cassette or a reel tape - and in these digital days that is probably a lot of people - it's hard to understand what static or dropouts are. Listening to 'Oxide' is a like being transported back in time, to the era of cassettes, hiss, when the music dropped a bit due to an imperfection of the cassette tape. Konzelmann takes all of these sounds, of pure hiss, of loud machine noise, of decay, of erosion and creates his 'Oxide' piece with it. He deliberately leaves in the 'unwanted' breaks, the mistakes and the faults, but his piece is, at least for me who heard pretty much everything of his 'old' music, a true delight. Great to see this on CD and becoming more easy to access, but surely its time to out some of the older releases and have a nostalgic evening of humming noise. (FdW) Address:

GUY GELEM - WORKS (CD by Split Femur Recordings)
This is the first release for Guy Gelem, who is a player of the guitar and the cello, which he plays along with the ticking of beats and perhaps a bit of synthesizers. I must admit I have rather mixed feelings about this record. On one hand there is the all too familiar beats from the world of IDM, think Expanding Records and Highpoint Lowlife, and that is the downside of this album: that is all very predictable. But there is also the side of the instruments, the guitar and the cello. They have something interesting to tell. Dramatic, melodic stuff, atmospheric and joyful. When the beats are absent, such as in 'Birth' this leads to quite nice music, but with the beats things are a tad too known ground for me. It's pleasant music, well recorded, well played but not much news under the sun. But it's the sun that shines so nice today and sitting back, relaxing, this is entirely great music to have on. (FdW) Address:

Listening to the first track 'Philosophie Fantasmagogique', which has Bergeron singing solo without any instrumentation, I seriously asked myself: would I halt if I met Bergeron singing on the street. Asking is answering this question: No. I probably wouldn't. Bergeron has a very characteristic voice, but this autodidact from Canada is not a great singer. His singing is often more close to speaking then anything else. But everything changes from the second piece 'Je m'imagninais...' In this and all the other songs that follow, Bergeron supplies his vocals with a very bizarre and unheard 'background' of electro-acoustic sounds and music. Background into brackets, because he opens new dimensions with his curiously assembled music. Brilliantly done. He uses many different soundsamples for this music. Often you recognize concrete instruments, other elements are from electronic origin or recordings treated beyond recognition. I,m totally impressed by the carpet he weaves in with plunderphonic approach. Very original collage work, producing in an highly imaginative music that is totally fascinating. I would qualify his compositions as songs in the end. And for some reason I associate them with the world of opera and musical. The eccentric Bergeron creates energetic and dramatic music and textures, little psycho-dramas. He sings in french most of time, sometimes a mixture of french and english. I couldn't make much of it, but the texts are an important element for Bergeron: "Philosophie Fantasmagorique was composed with an imaginary movie in mind. It includes a 47 pages movie script about an artist realizing is state of being in a confusing world. All the lyrics were inspired by the movie script story, but don't always directly relate to it. The sentences wrote themselves in an hybrid form of English and French. I got used to this new musicality. This language approach is not a political statement - but it is if you want it that way. This project is only something that I hope suggests new ways to explore and a relief for someone who don't feel understood in this world (that's why I love songs so much)." Although exploding with ideas and fantasy, in another way his compositions work a bit one-dimensional in the end and it becomes a bit of just pushing buttons. But it is impossible not to be impressed by this often hilarious music, that is compelling and very listenable. Bergeron is a true original talent, of a kind that is seldomly met. Watch this guy! (Dolf Mulder)

This one whirls very pleasantly into your room. A true surprise. We are talking here of a quartet from Chicago who surface with a very nice CD. The nucleus of this group is made up by Charles Rumback (drums, marimba, guitars) and Charles Gorzcynski (saxophones, harmonium, synth) accompanied by Brian Bullard and Matthew Gagnon, and several other guests playing cellos, guitars, bass clarinet, etc. For me, with a background in a Canterbury music, this music clearly relates to the world of Hugh Hopper, Robert Wyatt, Terry Riley, etc. In a postrock way they explore in their sonic excursions a music that shows many faces: ambient , jazz, rock. The music is carefully put together. Most tracks move on in a slow pace, paying attention to atmosphere and mood. This is very intuitive and meditative music. Modest but very self-consciouss and effective. The pieces have well-balanced arrangements and they are beautifully colored. Nicely textured. Electronics and the other instruments are interwoven organically. This album grows after each listening. Very well done. (Dolf Mulder) Address:

Surprises are always more than welcome. Maja Ratkje on Tzadik? Yes, that is a surprise. But Ratkje offering a score to 'real' musicians, who play violins, accordion, alto saxophone and double bass? That is a real surprise. But you start with 'Ox', which is a pretty noise related piece. More surprises and confusion. In that piece Ratkje processes the alto-saxophone playing, along with what seems to be sine waves. The ensembles comes in action 'River Mouth Echoes', the title piece and 'Waves 11B' which is an orchestral piece. I must admit that I am no lover of semi-serious (well, real serious of course) modern classical music, as it works on my nerves too much. It's surely interesting to hear, because it is written by someone whom we know from a totally different line of work, but in it self these two pieces didn't do much for me. It would have been interesting to see a total translation of Ratkje's noise work for these instruments. The remaining four pieces, 'Ox' included display this better. Here the combination of 'real' instruments with the electronic processing of Ratkje delivers some intense music - even when things are 'soft' such as in 'Sinus Seduction (Moods Two)', the oldest of the pieces in this collection and with 'Ox' and the dreamy, poetic 'Wintergarden' the best from this collection. (FdW) Address:

SVARTBAG (CD by Rump Recordings)
Although Svartbag was mentioned once in Vital Weekly, in 2003, it was in a concert announcement, but this trio exists longer, since 1996. Yet this is the first release on CD. Svartbag hail from Denmark and play guitars and drums. Loud guitars and drums that is. Minimal too. The five pieces all dwell around the idea of 'minimal' and 'drone' - welcome to spacerock land. The guitars are fed through looping devices, which allows the band to built and built their tracks until the reach a jubilee climax, in which it stays and plays around. It's Velvet Underground (less vocals) meets LaMonte Young meets krautrock meet E.A.R. - forty years of drone rock minimalism comes by on this disc, and as such nothing new but hey, what the hell? This is great, ecstatic music, reminding me of the good ol Vocokesh and F/i. Pounding drums, heavy guitars that keep ringing in your ears, all placed around with great care and style, making a fine album. Perhaps an odd ball for Vital Weekly, but that might be what attracts me to this heavy lot. Great late night hazy listening music. (FdW) Address:

There was a time when Brian Lavelle was more active than he is these days. In fact I can't remember putting on a CD by him in quite some time. Perhaps it's wrong, but I always lumped Lavelle in with "one of the laptop guys", but listening to 'Supernatural' I think this might not be the right approach. Lavelle uses electronics, field recordings, synthesizer, piano and bass guitar for four lengthy cuts of ambient music. Surely there is some sort of sound processing going which one could classify as 'laptop' inspired, but that is only really a small part of Lavelle's music. Take one of the longest pieces here, 'Citadel', which has a firm cemented foundation of drone synthesizers and (perhaps processed) piano arpeggio on top. Field recordings - wind perhaps - take care of the rest. Much more ambient than glitchy microsound. On 'The Bright Day Is Done' bird twitter take care of that. Lavelle cleverly avoids the path in the forest that says 'new age' and follows the path that says 'dark ambient' - it also a path that can be easily found in the forest of all mood music, but it's dimly light course is one that we follow much more readily that than the lighter and brighter (and duller) new age one. Slow music, out of time, beyond space, simply floating weightless around. Great, maybe not so surprising, ambient music. Perfect rainy day music; start at twilight preferably. (FdW) Address:

TAPE - MILIEU (2LP by Minority Records)
Let me state that I am not a purist when it comes to the format. I like vinyl, I like CDs, and, for popmusic only, MP3s, so as far as that I am happy with 'Milieu' by Tape on CD, as reviewed back in Vital Weekly 399: "The first CD by Tape was reviewed in Vital Weekly 350 and that CD was received well (even when I didn't write that review). Tape is a trio of the brother Berthling (Johan and Andreas) and Tomas Hallonsten. They play a wide variety of instruments from banjo to computer to harmonium to piano to field recordings. Slow and peaceful melodies played on acoustic guitar and steel guitar, while the recordings of domestic sounds hoover somewhere in the back. They list a number of influences, but of all those, I see Gastr Del Sol fit best, alongside with Jim O'Rourke's solo work. Eight sketch like pieces of music, intimate yet powerful. Such diverse elements and yet such a coherent CD. Maybe what Tape does is not new (see Gastr Del Sol, even when Tape is full on acoustic), but it's of great beauty. It combines experiment and song structures, it combines structured composition and improvisation. Less is more is the adagio of this CD. And of course on Hapna, one of the very few labels that is still worth collecting." It's still a review to stand by. In the meantime Tape produced more music, had a remix CD, and toured quite extensively, always displaying their qualities in a soft, pop tone with enough experimental edges. On this 2LP you'll find the original 'Milieu' album plus four tracks that were produced around the same time, but were not released on tape. The addition of some vinyl crackles make this altogether even more charming I think - this album is pressed on yellow vinyl, which looks great, but may not sound as the best around. It's a most welcome re-issue, which looks great as a record of course, but it's the timeless music that really makes the difference. (FdW) Address:

Of course I don't like using swear words, but I do use them, usually English ones. 'Fucking Hell' is what escaped my mouth when I opened the latest box by Le Souffleur, the label that almost entirely releases the music of its owner Raymond Dijkstra. Two identical carton boxes (which were, oddly enough, called 'cassettes' in the days of classical music) of which the top lid has red velvet with gold print. Inside a thin piece of paper with the same information and design. One record is called 'De Gedachte' ('the thought') and one is 'De Gelofte' ('the vow'). That's about as far as details go these two records. Like with his previous works, there is a strong similarity between these two new records, and with the previous releases, but there is an important difference too. Dijkstra moves glass over glass, while a sort of harmonium plays sparse notes. That is the same as before, but the harmonium playing seems to be lesser than on the previous records. It places an accent and nothing much else. The glass-on-glass is also more sparse and there is a total lack of sound effects - before it was an old 'space echo' machine, here it's entirely gone. I must say that these perhaps minor changes sound like 'nothing' to you, but for me it marks some essential differences. This is almost total acoustic music, of carefully scraping, scratching and touching of surfaces. Like before there are great similarities between the two records now available, but I don't think, in an Organum twist or turn, Dijkstra is playing the same piece twice, like a strict repeat. More over, I think he actually does play the same piece twice, but that he executes the two pieces in slightly different ways - just as a classical piece of music is never the same thing twice. Panta Rhei is what moves Dijkstra - everything flows. His music is like a river. It seems the same, but it never really is. Another two, great pieces of vinyl, and a very consistent oeuvre is built here. (FdW) Address:

Under the guise of Quiet American, Aaron Ximm releases music that is largely built from field recordings, with just a little bit of sound processing or the addition of other sounds. His field recordings are made during trips he makes into Asia, an area of the world I haven't seen or heard myself. Ximm's music are like 'soundwalks', in which he walks through a city and tapes whatever he hears. Some pieces are looped such as the call and response in 'Prelude: Tamil Nadu'. It's a very hypnotic piece of music, trance like, but subtly changing all the time. The call and response go on for some time, cars pass, people talk, more cars pass along and then we arrive in the middle of the city with some pop music, which takes us into the next piece 'Madurai Mani Fold', which is the only 'electronic' piece on this four track, double CDR (which spans 150 minutes!). The short sounds are on repeat mode and drift in and out of the mix, changing microscopically, and sounds like an electronic Steve Reich piece. 'Four Organs' but then on acid. That would have been enough for me, but there is two discs in the box, and the second takes the sound walk again, with some voices that call for prayer (it seems), along with some very low end drone like sounds. Ximm follows here the same process as on the first piece on the other disc, so it's a bit hard to relate to that again. When I was playing this, sunday, it was the first day when temperature in The Netherlands was over 20 degrees and it felt like a small holiday. Closing the eyes and hearing these sounds, while mildly sweating doing nothing, give me the impression of being in Asia. I swear I could almost smell spices and nice food. As such Ximm succeeds well in telling us a 'story' or rather making the impression through 'audio' of what we could see. I think one disc is great, and two is a bit too much however. (FdW)

Apart from running the Con-V label Miguel A. Tolosa is also active as a musician under the guise of Ubeboet. His releases so far has been on CDR and MP3 formats and he has worked with people like Pablo Reche and Asher. That might already give you some clue in which direction this goes. The two pieces here deal with field recordings made in various places in Spain and opens with a voice singing in what appears to be a church. The following drones might be taken from a church organ. Both pieces have this angelic feeling to it. Ubeboet's music was previously a bit more roughly shaped than the regular drone posse, but here he finds himself along the lines of say Paul Bradley or Jonathan Coleclough and I must say that, while I don't think it's all very 'new', this direction suits him better. Dark ambient drone music, made through digital sound manipulation - but Ubeboet does a very fine job. Can't understand why he should only want to make twenty-five copies of this release, as it seems to me that more people should be hearing this. (FdW) Address:

M. SWIEZYNSKI - FILMS 2007 (DVD-R, private release)
It is of course highly flattering that people think that when we write about music all week, we also might have an opinion on video art or literature. Can't speak for the others on board, but I am no such homo universalis. I like to think I know a bit about music, but that's about it. So what can I do with the DVD-R of M. Swiezyniski, which contains eight films? I can view them, think about them, even tell you wether I liked them or not, but I can't say much of how it was made or in what sort of tradition it stands in the world of film, abstract or not. His films are slow, minimal pictures. Sometimes it looks like a picture such as 'This Invisible Art Of Memory - Magic Hour Number 1', with a dark drone like piece of music as it's soundtrack. I think, it seems, that Swiezynski holds his camera onto a surface, say a river stream, and films the automated movements of water passing and then through computer technology changes the color or the speed to make things partly more abstract and partly still recognizable what it is. Dreamlike sequences, but which are very dark. Black, grey, and white are the colors for most of the films. The best one I thought was 'Mysterious And Invisible', with shot of a forest at dawn with occasional lights and the in the second part water that moves like sun light. Music for this film is by Asher. So I quite enjoyed the images on this disc, but I couldn't possibly say if they are original or new, or from which tradition they stem from. All I can say is that I enjoyed them. (FdW) Address:

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