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Vital Weekly 628

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C (CD compilation by Zelphabet)
Hot on the heels of 'A' and 'B', follows 'C', the third volume in the Zelphabet series. The 'C' of Charlemagne Palestine, Chop Shop, Contagious Orgasm and C Spencer Yeh. The old meet the new, but there is some great consistency here. From Palestine we get a lovely piece of oscillating sounds, drone music that is, recorded in 1974 and from Spencer Yeh a more noise based piece called 'Three Synthesizers', recorded in March 2008. Hectic, nervous sounds. A total opposite to the Palestine piece, which opens this CD and marks the perfect ending for this journey along generations. In set up both pieces are similar, yet with a very different outcome. Chop Shop recently surprised me with his 'Oxide' CD release, and here he comes with 'Retrofit' which is the sound of decay in action (or should that be 'action in decay'). Noisy blasts of eroded tapes, loops, hum are put together in a great collage of highly rusty sounds. Contagious Orgasm is a bit of an odd ball in this collection (the other three would have made the perfect drone based CD, with three different perspectives on the matter) with a nice collage of found sound - spoken word, eating chips and electronics. As such, as said, the odd ball here, but it provides a counterpoint too. Great volume in this encyclopedia. (FdW) Address:

With two different ensembles Buckner performs three works. With the S.E.M. Ensemble of Petr Kotik, Buckner interprets 'Luminescence' written by Annea Lockwood and 'Conceptuality/Life' of Petr Kotik. With Continuum Buckner plays 'Canto', a composition by cuban Tania León. All pieces were written for Thomas Buckner, a very reputed singer of avant garde music. 'Luminescence' is a strong narrative piece, based on eight poems by Etel Adnan. It is music with a timeless atmosphere talking about the love for the ocean. 'Canto' is also a songcycle, but a much more jumpy composition built around rhythm. The voice of Buckner is accompanied her by clarinet, cello, percussion and piano. Like in the first composition in 'Conceptually/Life' we hear the flute, trumpet, violins, cello and percussion of the SEM Ensemble. It is one lengthy piece of 27 minutes, composed in 2003. In all three works, Buckner, who has a wide range of vocal expressions and techniques, sings in a way you probably associate with classical music. His baritone voice fits perfectly with these ensembles, and what they offer together is a sort of modern chamber music. It is not music that immediately talks to you. It only talks to the patient ear. (Dolf Mulder) Address:

This french band combines the talents of Philippe Gleize (drums), Hugues Mayot (saxophone), Paul Brousseau (keyboards), Jean-Philippe Morel (bass) and Maxime Delpierre (guitar) together, assisted by guests Ucoc Lay, David Linx and Matthieu Metzger. Brousseau, from Poitiers (1976) is the central force in this group of young talented french musicians. The self-educated multi-instrumentalist Brousseau learned a lot from playing with Louis Sclavis, Marc Ducret a.o. And with this album his ready for his own thing. All compositions are by his hand, leaving plenty of room for improvisation. He is an adventurous composer/musician, trying to combine influences you don't find normally together. Fusion jazz is one source, but another is hardcore to name the two most important ones. Intelligently Brousseau creates unusual hybrid structures. They are played with verve by the musicians. Mayot plays in most tracks his sax in a way close to the esthetics of jazz and fusion in a lyric way. This is contrasted especially by the dark hardcore-like playing of Morel on bass. The electric guitar of Delpierre is close to rockmusic most of the time. Brousseau doesn't take much of the solos but he is omnipresent in most tracks as he is constantly adding strange soundsamples, etc., making the pieces very detailed and multicolored. In a ballad like 'Fsy Tokyo' he creates strange soundscapes and textures as a background for the solo by the saxophone. A lot is happening on this CD. Each track has new things to offer. Strange eclectic mixtures that work. In all complexity the music remains sensual and vivid. The playing is very dynamic and enthusiastic. The overall sound is rough and edgy. All in all this is a very fresh treat. This band is definitely in for something new, and they have a good sense for humor. In the closing track 'Mana' it is as if we hear Yes singing or another other progressive rockgroup from the 70s. Very funny, and not just for this effect. A promising group that is hard to pin up down! We will hear more of mister Brousseau. I'm sure about that and can't wait! (Dolf Mulder) Address:

When your label has released your record and go bankrupt right after that, it's bad, but you have the opportunity to re-issue it later on and adds a bonus. That's what the Nurses do. When they released 'Man With The Woman Face' their label World Serpent went under shortly after that. Now Colin Potter's ICR does a re-issue and like with so many of the ICR releases we are treated with a bonus CD. I love Nurse With Wound, I think Steve Stapleton is a true genius, but having said that I have some trouble keeping with his recorded output. It's ominous, and at times expensive. So pointing you in directions as to what this 2002 album is - Nurse drones, Nurse krautrock - with specific titles is not an easy task. There is a bit of everything in here, I'd say. I recognized the 'Spiral Insana' influence in the opening 'Beware The African Mosquito' but more concise and including some of the rapid changing in sounds. The second piece 'Ag canadh thuas sa spèir' (which means in Gaelic 'Up in the Air, Singing', is a strong piece which starts out with modern classical avant-garde electronics, but is intercepted with collated sounds and krautrock interceptions. The longest piece is 'White Light from the Stars in Your Mind (A Paramechanical Development)' which for me was harder to place in the Nurse With Wound catalogue, but that's because I haven't kept up with Stapleton's work with Tibet. The title is repeated admitst a mass of sounds, both very dry ones and ones with heavy reverb. It's a nice one, but not the classic Nurse piece, unlike the other two. On the bonus CD there are alternative 'versions' of the first and the third track, plus an unreleased outtake. Even in it's alternative form, the track is beyond saving: I still don't dig it. But the other two pieces are great. The 'Blue Lacune mix' of 'Beware The African Mosquito' is a more ambient affair with none of the rapid changes but with haunting quality. 'White Light etc' home demo is a bunch of banging and rattling, which is nice for four minutes but they entire twelve. In between is the unreleased 'Camel Be Air', which seems indeed like an outtake: the band tuns up and once there they play a neat, jazzy like tune with sounds swirling in and out the mix. Nice one, if a bit long - but hey, it's an outtake. The bonus CD is nice too, but more for the true die hard fans of Nurse With Wound and provides a look in the kitchen. Fine work throughout. (FdW) Address:

GOTHENBURG 08 (CD by Fang Bomb)
Years and years ago Dutch company Donemus released two double LP sets with the history of electronic music, one from 1955 to 1965 and from 1965 to 1975. Why they never bothered to make 1975 to 1985 (or beyond) is a riddle that I have no answer (nor the fact why they aren't on CD still). In Sweden they do things better. In 1984 Radium 226.05 released a LP 'Gothenburg 84' which included electronic music by CM von Hauswolff, Freddie Wadling, Zbigniew Karkowski and Jean-Louis Huhta, showing us the vibrancy of the city's electronic scene. These days some of them live elsewhere, but there is still an active scene in Swedish second largest city. Names that we also welcome in Vital Weekly, such as Viktor Sjöberg (last week!), Sewer Election, Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words, Jasper TX, The Skull Defekts and Tsukimono. It's a pretty varied bunch here, ranging from noise to sheer ambient (Porn Sword Tobacco even does new age) and in some cases from people which you don't expect to do so. Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words even use vocals which is a rarity for them (and in this scene in general). Best pieces are the heavy controlled drones of The Skull Defekts and the lighter drones of Jasper TX. Not as 'academic' as the '84 generation but throughout quite an enjoyable compilation, displaying an active scene. (FdW)

TIM BRADY - TOPOLOGY: SCAT (CD by Ambiances Magnetiques)
'Scat'contains four compositions of the canadian composer and guitarist Tim Brady dating from the years 1998-2000. All pieces are performed by the australian leading new music ensemble Topology or members of this ensemble and recorded in january 2006 in Brisbane. From the start it is clear that this was a fruitful collaboration. The cd opens with the three part suite 'Scat'. The first and the third part of this piece are very dynamic and powerful. It is a true pleasure to hear this rhythm-driven piece performed by these excellent musicians. The chambermusic of Tim Brady has the power and directness of rock music. In effect it sounds very fresh for modern composed music. 'Lighting Field - Darkness/ Illuminations' consists of two parts. The first part is a very dark piece of music where the instruments play against a background of electronic sampled sounds. The second part 'Illumination' is built upon minimalmusic-like patterns played by the piano and violins. It moves steady forward, alternated by parts where the instruments are whirling around and chasing each other. 'Dark Matter' was originally composed for the Relache Ensemble. It is the most introspective piece on this cd. But also in this composition there is often a strong pulse. The cd closes with 'Struck Twice by Lightning' an exhausting battle between viola and tape. Again Brady delivers a cd with very appealing compositions by his hand, and played very convincingly and eagerly by the Topology crew. If Brady is new for you, start here. (Dolf Mulder) Address:

On this for me new label, two artist of whom I never heard of (but the label makes it sound if they are famous - and why not). Behind Methadrone is one Craig Pillard, who is bass player in 'one of the best doom metal bands from the USA, Evoken' and before that a member of 'extreme metal band Incantation' (I can smell tattoo's here), but by the end of the day he likes to expand his doom music into the world of drone music. Drenched heavily in reverb, he strums his guitar, adds deep bass, builds a drone and invites David Galas of Lycia to sing a song. There are more points of reference to the darkwave (less drums) of Lycia and Nadja (with whom he shared a record). Its lesser an affair of plain dark ambient, as Methadrone is much more musically oriented. Doom however is the tone of the day - hardly lush drone music to enjoy the evening, this rather more unsettling doom ambient - perhaps a bit too unpleasant to be atmospheric, but desolation is all over the place.
From Canada comes Thisquietarmy, the one man band of Eric Quach. He's a 'guitarist in a renowned shoe-gaze band Destroyalldreamers' (the fact that both projects are spelled as one word might give it away, right?) and here too the six strings are used and as such can be recognized. Other than Pillard however Quach wants things to be a bit more abstract, plus he adds a drum sound here and there. His textures are also 'moody' but more atmospheric, perhaps through the addition of female vocals from Meryem Yildiz in one track. Here too a Nadja reference can be made: Aidan Baker, one half thereof, plays a guest contribution and stylistically Quach refers to Baker's solo work. Long pieces of sounds that are stringed together, through the use of loop pedals, creating nice textures and occasionally heavy explosions, such as in 'Warchitects'. That makes the album more varied than Methadrone, but also less suitable as chill out, come down music. (FdW) Address:

Metal music and electronic based music are most often like night and day when it comes to musical expression. At the moment though, there seems to be a tendency with bands that combines the violence of heavy guitar riffs with the harshness of mistreated electronic equipment. A few weeks ago I reviewed the album "Cult of ruins" by Canadian band Menace Ruins released on Alien8 Recordings. Present album from Cold Spring Records has a similar same approach to expression blending metal and electronics but with a quite different result. The brain behind the project Skitliv calls himself Maniac, he has a background in one of Norways most successful black metal-bands Mayhem. On this debut-album of Skitliv, titled "Amfetamin", Maniac integrates evil black metal-vocals in doom metal-sounds spheres based on ultra-heavy and slow guitar-riffs with guest appearances of Attila from one of the most successful drones-based doom metal bands at the moment, SUNN O))), and intros by Current 93's David Tibet. Abusive storms of harsh noise add a quite interesting supplement to the spheres of metallic steel. A quite interesting album that shows that the mixture of metal and electronic expression can end up with a very interesting result. Thus recommended for listeners of both electronic and metal music. (Niels Mark)Address:

At the end of 2006 the Swiss label Schimpfluch existed twenty years and thus also the musical activities of Rudolf, erstwhile known as Runzelstirn & Gurgelstock, but these days also known under his own name. Perhaps it also marked twenty years of Sudden Infant, whose early material was also released on Schimpfluch. Here Sudden Infant, also known as Joke Lanz and team up with their more recent associate Dave Phillips and produced together 'Schimpfluch-Commune Int.' Lanz and Phillips provide what is called on the cover 'elemental recordings and pre-compositions' and Rudolf with the same as well as 'allover mutation and final composition'. The three of them collect acoustic sounds, picked up with a contact microphone as well as open microphones their actions and sounds from the mouth, which are they meticulously edited into music. This is noise music plus. Other than a sheer wall of noise, this is collage music, cut and pasted together, through ultra short editing, swift changes and dry sounds. This is not laptop heavy plug in music, if at all made with computers, as I would rather expect these boys to use a splicing block and a demagnetized razor blade to physically cut magnetic tapes, but a rather 'old fashioned' electro-acoustic record. A great one at that, actually.
Something which is actually also the case with the release by Nihilist label boss Andy Ortmann. Before better known as Panicsville, but now moving into the realms of serious music (this new release got some sponsoring from arts councils) under his own name. The octa-thing deals with the number eight, and the three pieces here on this DVD (no images) can be played on a 7.1 installation, if you have such a thing. I only have a 2.0 installation, called 'stereo', but it sounds great still. Ortmann lists (inconveniently on the DVD itself) a list of instruments - mainly old analogue synthesizers and where he did his field recordings. Just as on the Schimpfluch disc, I'd say this is the small alley where noise is really interesting. Not because it's super loud, although there are points when things are pretty loud, but because of the fine balance between electronic, noisy sounds and the crackling of highly amplified field recordings which are all put together into an interesting collage of sound. Not like Schimpfluch of short and shorter sounds, but through longer pieces which work quite well. Great stuff, both of these releases and if noise is like this, I'd sign up again. (FdW) Address:

It's been a while since Narrominded released the previous split LP (Hydrus/Kettel in Vital Weekly 414 and before that Living Ornaments/Accelera Deck in Vital Weekly) and now they return with two artists that also can be lumped together, just like the two previous editions. Both Cor Fuhler and Mats Gustafsson hail from the world of improvised music. Fuhler builds his own instruments, plays the prepared piano and is part of Mimeo, Otomo's Yoshihide's New Jazz Orchestra and his own Corkestra. For his two pieces here he plays the prepared piano, with magnets, ebow, hand drill and milk shakers. It's hard to believe that this is so, certainly in 'Tengam', the longest of two. It doesn't sound like, say John Cage, with strange blowing and plucking sounds, given a strange, direct in your face sound with lots of hectic movements. Towards the end the sound of what seems a geiger counter drops in and more loud noise. Quite a heavy weight piece, but the shorter 'Repus' brings a great counterpoint. A great room filling drone/tone piece. Gustafsson on the other side of the record has just one piece, 'Sleeping Instructions' for baritone saxophone and live electronics. Its hard to believe that Gustafsson is a member of anything free in music, as this sounds like a strictly composed piece of highly concentrated and condensed drone music, with long sustaining sounds and strange piano like tinkling qualities. A great piece that, as far as I'm concerned, could have lasted much longer than the thirteen something minutes that it does now. Fuhler does what he does best, I think and Gustafsson makes the real surprise here. Great record! (FdW)

JON MUELLER - STRUNG (LP by Table Of The Elements)
Already noted before: Table Of The Elements love Jon Mueller, and who doesn't? Here he leaves the drum kit for what it is and plays guitar, as an addition to the labels Guitar Series Vol. 3, an one-sided LP (the other side has an etching, which is a bit hard to see in transparent vinyl) of Mueller playing the guitar as if it was a mechanical beast. Perhaps with rotating blades? A ventilator? Mueller cuts out, in a rhythmical manner, sounds and thus one strum arises, repeated, until the full guitar orchestra falls in, with full blown drones. A very consistent idea that is worked out well, and makes this sound like a great album, coming from a great tradition: from Lou Reed to Glenn Branca to Earth. At the same time it also sounds like a Mueller record, with amplified hums. Perhaps a bit too short, as this seems over before it has properly started, it seems. The built-up takes some time because it keeps shifting back and forth, adding a strange movement to the piece. This is a great record, showing a new side for Mueller I think. (FdW)

Work by Jamie Drouin were previously released by Dragon's Eye Recordings, which he recorded with Yann Novak and later with Lance Olsen (although the first time his name was mentioned in Vital Weekly was in issue 385 - more recent reviews are in 577 and 599), this is however the first work we hear from him solo. It deals with sleepwalking. It seems to me that it deals entirely with field recordings, which come to us in both a clean and a processed manner. Bird twitter, rain fall, insects and such like which are transformed into carefully streams of soft sound. Like his previous work this is all firmly rooted in the world of microsound. Deep bass sounds, high pitched crackles: nocturnal music indeed, as this works best when played in a dark(er) room, when light has faded and the stars arrived at the firmament. Quite nice, if somewhat unsurprising (or rather not very new) in the world of microsound. (FdW)

Three regular visitors here to the world of Anthony Guerra's Black Petal label. Matt Earle is a busy man, and as Muura he has had two previous releases on Black Petal. He plays all of the stuff at the same: guitar, drums, analog synthesizer and singing. Which sounds a lot at the same time, but Earle sets his synth in some drone fashion (tape those keys down!) and plays his guitar with his hands and the drums with his feet - or vice versa - whatever is required. His music is a minimalist affair, an endurance test perhaps. For how long can I produce a certain sound, keeping up rhythm and still make interesting small moves to make a 'song'. He does that remarkable well. The pieces have enough tension to be interesting and the only thing that bothers me a bit is that the sound quality is, as always perhaps, a bit too lo-fi. I'd be curious to know how it would sound if it was recorded with some better microphones. Perhaps it sounds better, but perhaps some of this music would loose its magic.
On a smaller size we find City People's Farmers Music, a duo of Mark Sadgrove and Sam Hamilton - I believe both from New Zealand and now both in Tokyo. Together they operate on a variety names, solo, together and with other people and both have their own label. If I may say so, here they operate as singer-songwriters with just guitars and Sam doing the vocals and Mark the backingvocals. I think we should regard this as tongue in cheek - also my remark about singer-songwriters. Although there is not much else to hear than some highly experimental form of guitar playing - this is the true non-musicianship at work - just rubbing a string with a piece of plastic, which slowly may or may not develop into some loose figures playing, or so it may seem, with mumbling vocals - which sound like backing vocals already if you ask me. Very minimalist stuff, very lo-fi, but also highly captivating and quite emotional - which made me think of the whole singer-songwriter tag. Very nice. (FdW)

DEEP & JUNE PAIK - I MOG DEEP (3"CDR by Verato Project)
In a nice cover comes this 3" CDR recorded by Deep and June Paik. I know Deep as being related to Dhyana Records who releases their music with long intervals, but June Paik is a new name for me, at least if it's not Nam June Paik, but he's dead, so it must be somebody else. These two project played together at the Let There Be Rock concert in february 2007 and Deep member Bernd Spring mixed the material (from april 2007 to january 2008, mind you) which is announced as 'a collection of drones, feedbacks and melodies', which is almost true. Melodies is something I didn't hear very well, but the drones put on by this lot is quite nice. A louder version that what is usually the case in music like this and sounds, through distorted guitars like Sunn O))) or Fears Falls Burning, building in a strict linear fashion. Short but nice. (FdW) Address:

When it comes to microsoundish excursions into the fields of sound and music, then it's the "Freiband" moniker under which Frans de Waard presents us his ideas (and works resulting from them). The latest one being a 3" CDR on his own "My Own Little Label" and coincidentally probably also the last Freiband recording of 2007. The sound sources on this work originate from piano recordings made on boxing day (a day that doesn't really exist in the Netherlands. We don't get the presents, we just have an extra holiday and call it 2nd christmas day. Never anything to do on that day, so what more excuses do you need, to get down to some quality time in music production? I guess De Waard did just that). He didn't keep it to just that boxing day. In the days after, he transformed the original recordings into usable bits, pieces and layers. Culminating into a final mix on new years eve. Without getting to psycho-analytical, this piece (carrying the name "Reflection") might very well be De Waard's "looking back on the year 2007" (if only for the too obvious title). But heck, that's something we all do, isn't it? And nothing wrong with that. In fact, what better way then to do this then by means of your own craft? - (so that it's bound to deliver something nice as well). Reflection" is a 16 minute piece that starts off with some pulsating piano tones, while underneath stretched out ones are placed. Slowly fading away, coming back again and eventually dissolving into more stretched out piano soundscapes. A higher pitched grinding marks its presence and invokes a new movement in the piece: we're in the domain of high frequency whirlwinds and storms now. Eventually diving into an ocean of crystal clear tone transformations and finally bringing us back home to the stretched out tones of the first movements (although a bit more airier). The circle is made round again, when we return to piano tones at the end of the piece (but here slightly more distorted).
"Refection" has a comforting contemplative feel to it, which in my opinion is a very suitable soundtrack to the last days of the year. We actually need more recordings like this! Would be such a nice alternative to all that ridiculous Dutch fireworks or spinning Slayer's "Angel of Death" over and over again. (Steffan de Turck) Address:

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