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Vital Weekly 627

img  Tobias

Tobias Fischer's Feu Follet project has so far a nice bunch of releases - or rather a bunch of nice releases on his own Einzeleinheit label, but also for others. Here, on Gruenrekorder, presented with a great, professional cover, he presents us one piece in five distinctive parts. Fischer belongs to the young and exciting new drone musicians from Germany, next to say Ex Ovo/Mirko Uhlig. The way they handle their material is great. There is lots of space, sometimes in a literal way such as the opening bird sounds here, through carefully constructed drones, probably constructed on the computer, but there is always that bit of extra, like a looped cricket sound, a sorrowing organ, or even Asmus Tietchens' like sound processing. That gives the music an extra bite which is sometimes missed in some of the other drone musicians. A fine solid work, with fine dynamics, changes in all the right places and throughout a very fine release. (FdW) Address:

At first sight I thought this was an odd pairing. Alan Licht's guitar work is not always the most subtle around, but then Onda's cassettes and electronics isn't the loudest around. But then on the other hand both love tape techniques to alter sound and both love to improvise, so that's perhaps already common ground enough to work together. Onda's cassettes with field recordings acting as a diary offers a wealth of material to use and Licht's looped guitar plays both the minimalist patterns and the most thunderous storms, such as in 'Ship Shape'. This album was recorded in the studio, which is something that can be heard: in the process of mixing the album (which they, curious enough, didn't do themselves) a fine balance is made between all the sounds. The horns in 'Tiptoe' and the guitar pattern and bird twitter make a fine dense textured piece until the guitar remains solo. It's the best out of five, along with the opening 'Tick Tock', as one of the best, with stuttering sounds over a bed of drones. The other pieces are nice as well, with two 'loud' pieces and three more subdued pieces, the latter of course pieces that did more to me than the louder ones. A good solid work this work, rich of ideas, perfect in execution. (FdW) Address:

On all accounts something I never heard of before. Die Schrauber is a trio of Hans Tammen (from New York), Joker Nies (from Cologne) and Mario de Vega (Mexico). They all play electronics, be it in combination with the guitar (like Tammen), circuit bending (Nies) or through self built audio software (de Vega). Tammen released a recording they made in Mexico on his own, new label Acheulian Handaxe. Each of the players has a solo piece, and there is a lengthy trio piece at the beginning. Thirty minutes of improvised electronic music. Music which is not always easy to follow, and which may have been edited in stead of the full set, as it would have made a stronger piece. The solo pieces are nice, especially the more quiet Joker Nies, with more empty spaces in between the sounds and Tammen's guitar piece, which also deals with some quieter sounds. A lengthy release of difficult music. Maybe the blaring sun melted my mind while hearing and trying to concentrate on this. (FdW) Address:

This is classical noise- can I use the term? - then I will define it - is essentially a (binary) dualism (of two sounds - though infinite via rhizomic mitosisc bifurcation) which is fundamental to any ontology, at its most univocal a deleuzian difference, of two, yoni, ass, hole, holy of holy's, the creative vacuum of expansion(big bang), procreation, oedipal desire of capitalism - and its alternative - the lingam, phallocentric, narcissistic masturbatory, ouroboros, cyclicality, unity, infinity of the möbius (feedback!), which unlike the multifaceted tonality of *music* is in classical noise TWO - the deep bass of processed expansive white noise - ( and the (prick! of) high pitched feedback loop. This is why noise unlike music is non-colonial non territorializing and non metaphorical - it is the actuality of immanence. It does not explain the cosmos of being but it is its actuality and is present here in this CD of two remarkable pieces of noise. It therefore lies beyond the horizon of criticism - actually enfolds criticism, I was depressed on Tuesday, today is Wednesday and I've listened to this masterwork, the world is changed, there is a new reality- this reality. A brilliant, brilliant work - a thousand suns. Now I suppose to help anyone not yet convinced I should mention that there are two live tracks - long structures of feedback and noise *and nothing else* (and so everything else) - no compromise from John Hegre (Jazzkammer/Jazkamer) Jørgen Træen (are Golden Serenades), Dan Johansson (is Sewer Election) and Tommy Carlsson (is Treriksröset) "kalo'smi." (jliat) Address:

One part of the Netherlands is Friesland and there they don't have their own dialect, but their own language. A language that I can't understand. Jan Kleefstra writes his poetry in this language, and here he teams up with the omnipresent Rutger Zuydervelt, also known as Machinefabriek. Translation in dutch and english are provided, so we know that the poetry of Kleefstra is not a very bright one - loneliness, emptiness, autumn and death are some of his topics. Zuydervelt seemingly plays only guitar. A few sparse notes, repeated over and over and waving around in a bath of reverb and echo, this is quite desolate music. Kleefstra's sombre recitation, which are short and Zuydervelt's tinkling guitar and whatever else is running (violin?) that continues until it has changed a bit (or more) and then Kleefstra recites another poem. Again there is a slight connection to be made to the music of Oren Ambarchi, but Zuydervelt plays more notes, I guess. Not exactly the sort of music for sun burning spring day, but more for grey clouds and autumn rain. One set apart for short days to come. Very delicate shades of grey. (FdW)

ARTURAS BUMSTEINAS - BLUR (CD by Galerie Antjewachs)
Recently Dutch TV showed 'Silence Of The Lambs', 'Hannibal' and 'Red Dragon' in three nights and especially the first one is an absolute master piece which I love and can watch over and over again. The first time I show it, I taped on my video but due to a wrong setting, I missed out the very last bit ('miss sterling, there is a phone call for you' was the last thing) and I had to phone a friend and ask him what happened next. Why this petite histoire? I also missed out the end sequence music. Something that I wouldn't care about, but Arturas Bumsteinas took the end sequences of all five Hannibal Lecter movies to create this CD. Damn it, I wish I paid more attention so I would know more what exactly Bumsteinas did on his CD. A short CD, lasting under thirty minutes, he plays some creepy music. As creepy as some of the film sequences I imagine. Long sustaining violin like tones that above all shout 'suspense, suspense'. Carefully he has processed these sounds into perfect horror movie music. It's paid by gallery, but it almost sound a like letter to solicit as soundtrack musician in Hollywood. Graeme Revell did make it there, so why not Bumsteinas? With this at his hand he could hardly miss the opportunity. More likely this is one of his conceptual approaches to music, and where others fail at the job, Bumsteinas succeeds in playing some nice ambient related glitch music. (FdW) Address:

CIRCLE X - PREHISTORY (CD by Blue Chopsticks)
One of the last few labels of which I wanted to buy everything they released is Dexter's Cigar, a label run by Jim O'Rourke and David Grubbs. They were together as Gastr Del Sol and a great taste in music, re-releasing old and forgetting music of all kind, including Derek Bailey, Voice Crack and Circle X. I remember the latter from the 80s, just as a name, but never hearing their music. But ten years ago, Dexter's Cigar re-released their self titled EP and I got acquainted with their unconventional rock music. I didn't realize (or perhaps didn't think of it) that there would be more music, but 'Prehistory' is their first album (they released also some 7"s and in 1994 an album before splitting up in 1995 when guitarist Bruce Witsiepe died). Usually when a label says 'sounds like nothing else' then you bet that's untrue, except when the labelboss is David Grubbs - now on his own with Blue Chopsticks - you can only know he's right. The six pieces carved on this CD come from punk rock (volume!, aggression!!), but at the same time also from no wave and improvisation. Maybe the Swans come close, maybe Sonic Youth, all of whom started a little bit later than this album, which was recorded in 1981. Sometimes Tony Pinotti's voice is like a cry, a howl, a scratch, feeding through echo, lyrics rendered beyond recognition, while the rhythm section hammers away and the guitar has a free role. Strange elements leak through in the mix - did I mention that psychedelic music is certainly an influence too? I did, now. Above all this is angry music from an angry generation in a totally different time frame - well, perhaps that's why it fits so fine in these scary times too. Essential re-issue! (FdW) Address:

SKIF++ - SK++[01, 02, 03, 04, 00] (CD by Fridgesound)
Some weeks ago I reviewed the very first solo CD by Robert van Heumen, and wrote that he's, among the many other things he does, a member of Skif++. There is now a CD available by this group, which is Van Heumen on a laptop playing LiSa, Jeff Carey (whom you may know as 87 Central, who plays with Super Collidor on his laptop)) and Bas van Koolwijk who plays with Jitter and is responsible for the groups' visual side. The recordings were already made in 2006, but it took some cross-atlantic mixing as Van Heumen lives in Amsterdam and Carey in Washington. This is a typical work of the improvising computer laptoposse. Things beep, scratch, hiss and meow about in a brittle, fast manner, but Skif++ is all to aware of the trap of unlistenable noise music generated with too many ones and zeroes. Hence the extensive editing process applied to this music makes this so much stronger than your average laptop doodling. Skif++ knows how to pull back gear and play a piece that is softer, with even a hint of melody such as in '02'. On other occassions things seem to explode and large, extensive clouds fly over, like over the flat Dutch ground. But here too things never become boring or long. Skif++ knows when to pull back, make a move, a new gesture and offer new insights. Also on the CD is a film by Bas van Koolwijk, which gives us the exact representation, I think, of what Skif++'s music looks like: academic and in a odd, fresh way, also old fashioned, but then entirely updated to these times. Get my drift? (FdW)

ALEPH-1 - X1 (CD by Ideal Recordings)
O.S.T. - WAETKA (CD by Ideal Recordings)
One of the busiest men around is of course Carsten Nicolai, who travels the seven seas to do his music, his art installations and his label. Normally as Carsten Nicolai or as Alva Noto, he shows up here as Aleph-1, in which he plays with "electronic music acoustic sound aesthetics that was especially developed for the IDEAL Recordings label", inspired by the theories of mathematician Georg Cantor. Here Nicolai samples acoustic material, and plays around them in an electronically treated way. Music that has no dramatic change, or structure, they simply fade in and out. Once it is there, the material bounces around in a highly minimalist manner. Slow pulse music that certainly has a groove, but it's too slow to move your feet to. Feet tapping music or head nod music. The difference with the material recorded as Alva Noto is minor but essential. As Alva Noto things are entirely electronic, and here the source is acoustic, even when it's hard if impossible to figure out what the hell those acoustic sources are. Nice mellow pulse music that is not super great, but quite pleasant to hear.
Let's have a quick listen to V. Sjöberg New Jazz Ensemble, as I bet it's something for our more Jazz inspired man Dolf Mulder, is what I thought. But I realized I heard music by Sjöberg before: 'On A Winter's Day' was reviewed in Vital Weekly 525. Here he teams up with indeed an ensemble, including musicians on guitar, drums, vibraphone, kalimba, laptops and more. He calls it new jazz because 'It is just a humble comment on the sad fact that a lot of the time the word jazz is very limiting, both in the mind of the consumer and from the point of view of the musician/producer', but to my ears it has very little to do with jazz. Even the fact that this is a larger group at work is something that can be heard on the album. Whatever was recorded with the ensemble, this all sounds like Sjöberg took matters a bit further. Very lush ambient sound (Ideal sells it as 'ambient acoustic jazz', which in fact sounds like a good description). The band plays long sustaining sounds, with 'free' elements mixed in quite softly, but throughout computer processing in good microsound fashion plays an important role. Very relaxing music that owes much more to good ol' laptop music, just like his previous release and one should take the word 'jazz' with a pinch of salt.
Along similar lines of these two albums on Ideal Recordings we can also place the album of one Mattias Petersson, but his music goes into a different direction than Sjöberg or Nicolai, although working principles may be the same. Taking acoustic sounds, treating them in an electronic way and creating music with that. Like Nicolai we can't know (perhaps not allowed to know) what the sound sources are as the level of processing is quite high, until we hear a piano note, well into the album. Petersson likes things noisy and gritty which sets him apart from the two previous albums, but there is something about the digital sounding album that I don't like very well. It sounds all a bit too much computer processing with rough edged sounds, and not softly shaped ones, which adds too many graininess to the sounds certainly in the first two and the last track. It's all too regular playing of noise meeting acoustic sounds, looped around in an easy fashion. Not bad, not great. 5 our of 10 rating.
Its been years and years since I last heard O.S.T., also known as Chris Douglas, who was last reviewed in Vital Weekly 304. That album was quite nice compared to the other one, back in Vital Weekly 221. I have no idea what he did in the years in between, but his music certainly progressed. He holds the middle position in these four Ideal releases. Much alike the others he processes all sorts of sound material (acoustic, perhaps), loops it around, adding sound effects (through plug ins or outboard) and the outcome is softer than Petersson and louder than Sjöberg, with a nod towards ambient industrial music: the moody, dark atmospheric textures fly about here and make a great soundtrack (nodding to the band name) for road movies along the industrial wasteland of a post nuclear attack. Nice dark atmospheres, isolationist music. (FdW) Address:

(VXPXC) - SELF-STORAGE (CDR by Gold Sounds)
CRITICAL MESS #1 (CDR by Gold Sounds)
Sindre Bjerga's Gold Sounds label exists for quite some time now, and his releases are packed in true underground fashion - xeroxed, hand painted. The first one is by (VxPxC), a trio of Justin McInteer, Grant Capes and Tim Goodwillie, of whom we reviewed 'Chinatown Noise-cut' in Vital Weekly 577. Whereas that previous involved some percussion like work, that seems to have a minor role on this release (only in two of the five pieces), but the emphasis lies on the lo-fi drone character of the music. Still there are voices to be spotted around, bass note drones and some wavy organ recording. The quality is still that of a shed recording, but no doubt that is a deliberate act of being 'weird' (and masquerades the inadequacies of the music). Very 'New Zealand' if you catch my drift, but it sounded alright. Three boys with fat joints making music in a shed. Cosy.
Also from the underworld of drones and CDR labels is Textured Bird Transmission, of whom we know, goddamit, nothing. Here too lo-fi runs high in approach. Textured Bird Transmission play cosmic, psychedelic drone music on a bunch of old analogue synths, tape-delay and some low level distortion pedals. Four tracks, spanning thirty some minutes, but they seem to me outtakes from longer parts, jams that lasted hours and hours. Just one candle was lit, some incense burned (yuk), illegal substances at hand and jam along in good spirit. The recording machine was on a low volume until the fourth track (which sounds super loud after the first three) but what an evening they had. Nice one, again.
I have no idea why Gold Sounds wanted to release 'Critical Mess #1'. Not because it's bad, but it's all with Stavanger folks that show the liveliness of the cities underground, but it's all people that have had their releases on many other labels too. Only Nils Rostad, who opens the proceedings is a new name for me, but otherwise its Bjerga/Iversen, Hoh, Pal Asle Pettersen, Sindre Bjerga, Bjerga/Anders Gjerde and Iversen. Quite a little work of incest if you ask me. Everybody involved in this lot does whatever he/they are best at doing. There is the Bjerga/Iversen electronic improvisation, Hoh's love of rhythm, Pettersen's musique concrete, Bjerga's noise, Iversen with microsound and Bjerga/Gjerde's super fine drone piece. All quite alright these pieces, but there is a taste of left-overs here. (FdW)
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Only recently we reviewed the first three releases on the new US label I, Absentee and here is a new one, this time putting their first real release and more officially announcing the label through 'Birth Certificate'. I explained last week that I don't like to review compilations but this one is actually one I liked. The label has gathered a fine bunch of musicians here who all play electronic music, but there are loads of small differences to be spotted. To the uninitiated this might be all rhythm based music, but there is straight forward techno like music, electro-pop (Slap [Unmodified], Goudron, Mothercrotch), ambient inspired, cosmic music by D.D. NewMole and even straight experimental and noise music, although the latter aren't really great. All in all a very fine collection, of which I liked the electro-pop pieces a lot, whereas the others are pretty o.k. Great music to have playing while relaxing and reading and less for dancing. Included are: 21 Jumpsuit, Neon Tetra, Slap, The Red Falcons, D.D. NewMole, Goudron, Mothercroth, Black Moth Super Rainbow, Milieu, Ambidextrous, Power Pill Fist, Boozhownd Doggonit, Lunar Testing Lab, Tobacco, Baloo, Mall Security and Audience Of One. (FdW) Address:

It seems that Frans de Waard kind of follows the footsteps of Machinefabriek, when it comes to releasing a 3" CDR almost every week. Well, that's a bit silly to say I guess, but it's true that lately he's been releasing quite a few excellent releases on his own imprint "My Own Little Label" and there's a link, since Rutger Zuydervelt designs all the artwork for the covers. The latest release is a Beequeen and not a new one, in fact a re-release of 1995's "Long Stones and Circles" and what a welcome one that is! It was one of their first compositions in which they started to work with vocals (at present a renown workethic for Beequeen, e.g. "Sandancing"), by adapting an original text of Landscape artist Richard Long. The piece starts off with a hard dry metronome, setting the pace for the piece. Slowly more elements are added: bells, wind and more fieldrecordings. All in a peacefull and delicate manner, while a distant voice starts to recite the poem-like texts. You might call it a sonification of land-art, in the way that it builds an environment in your mind while listening to this piece. You can almost smell the mountain dew. (SDT)

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