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Vital Weekly 629

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Along time ago, in Vital Weekly 500 we reviewed work by Daniel Hopkins, also known as Hurra Caine Landcrash, as well as HL. Back then his work was released on his own No Ground Processes, here he finds his way to the real CD format on Split Femur Recordings. Back then we already noted his shift towards the use of the guitar, which he now worked out into 'Unanswered Questions'. If I understood things correctly Hopkins drops shells, pebbles and stones on a guitar, picks up the sound in his laptop using 'various filters and effects' and explores as such the guitar. The blurb raves about 'on one hand of no wave punk and then sweeping to more ethereal esoteric sound-scapes'. I must say I had a hard time hearing the no wave punk, but then perhaps I had the wrong records when I was young. The 'ethereal esoteric' part I can dig, but that sounds a bit negative, or rather some musical area in which you rather not be. Hurra Caine Landcrash's 'Soul', the opener is kinda not like the album: it distorts and not in a nice way. The tracks to follow are much nicer and work from a microsound/drone perspective. Even when Hurra Caine Landcrash doesn't do an original job here, despite his perhaps somewhat curious approach in working, the music sounds all quite nice, except of course for that first track, which is an odd ball. Think Fennesz, of course I'd say, Deupree or other microsound artists, and Hurra Caine Landcrash fills in the holes they left with quite an intelligent mixture of his own techniques. Moody, atmospheric and with the guitar leaping into sound areas which may seem to be from an altogether different nature, this is quite a nice album. (FdW) Address:

A double album of compositions for solo double bass, showing the many faces of this rich instrument. Mark Cauvin is a young double bass player from Australia who did his studies at the Conservatorium of Sydney. Before that he played all kinds of music: classical, art-rock, traditional Greek music, avant garde, etc. With the help the Australian Arts Council he was able to realize his project 'Transfiguration'. For this project Cauvin selected several compositions from modern composers like Berio, Xenakis, Scelsi, Dubrovay, Zbinden, and Grillo. Also he studied briefly with Fernando Grillo in Italy. Grillo is a very well-known player of the double bass. I remember an intriguing interpretation by him of 'Medium III', a composition by Dimutrescu. On this double-cd all the efforts of this three-year project are condensed, accompanied by helping introductions to these compositions in the included booklet. It is common for many modern compositions that they make use of extended playing techniques. The selection on this CD is made in order to offer an overview of the wide range of extended techniques and possibilities that is to be found in the repertoire for double bass. It made me think what distinguishes an extended technique from a non-extended one. What defines an 'extended technique'? Is it one that is not common for (convention), or not proper (principal) to the instrument? I don't know. Also this cd made me realize that it is typical for 20th century composers that they were interested in expanding possibilities in order to enlarge the soundpallet that is hidden in an instrument. The question why this is so, brings us to the field of music history, which is not the subject here. Mark Cauvin proves to be an excellent guide through this repertoire. He offers an unique collection of seldom heard and recorded pieces of modern music. They are especially to be found on the first cd. The second one has 'Suite 1 for Double Bass' a first recording of a composition by Grillo. (Dolf Mulder) Address:

Mary Lou Newmark is a composer and poet from Los Angeles. Also she plays electric violin. She has her background in classical music. Her compositions are often multi-media events where her poetry, theatrical aspects, electronics and performance are integrated in one whole. Also the music on this cd has its origin in a multi-media performance that took place in 2006: ,Street Angel Diaries,, a project on homeless people. Everything we hear on this cd is done by Newmark herself, apart from two contributions by a brass quintet. One could call it music, but to me it sounded more as a radioplay with musical aspects. In several pieces the texts spoken by Newmark in are the centre and speak about the daily experiences of homeless people. Other pieces are soundcollages, mixing environmental sounds, her voice, acoustical instruments and electronics. And from time to time we hear her electronic violin. Her voice is the weak spot, lacking power and expression. But it is clear that Newmark is experienced in this artform of soundcollage. Musically spoken, the results on this cd however are not very adventurous, but probably fitting in the context a theatrical performance. (Dolf Mulder) Address:

This one brings us to Cardiff where this quartet has its home. On their own Joc-label they released their second album. We meet Paul Jones (piano, synthesizers), Richard Jones (guitar, electronics), Chris O'Connor (double bass) and Mark O,Connor (drums). No further need to explain the name of this group. They seem to be influenced by post-rockbands. But listening to this cd it leaves you with no doubt that these guys are above all inspired by music from the 70s. Associations with Canterbury-groups like Gilgamesh (Phil Miller) and Hatfield and the North came easily to my mind. Yes, this group is deeply rooted in the british jazz and fusion tradition. The thorough compositions come from the talented Paul and Richard Jones. Although very well constructed there is little room for innovation or just a surprising twist for letting know that we are in 2008 now. But don't forget, these are solid compositions! Also in their sound they go back to the 70s, due especially to the sound of the keyboards. The playing is very much OK. Nice work on guitar and keyboard. They play beautiful lines. Together the four show a real togetherness in their playing, making the music evolve very naturally and organic. From what I write you could conclude this band is too much on a retro exercise. But that wouldn't be fair, I think. They are much too intelligent for just offering some echoes from the past. They are great stylists who will convince you of their message if you are open to it. (Dolf Mulder) Address:

FLUTWACHT ­ - SECONDFACE (CD by The Tourette Tapes)
Tourette Tapes is a side-label by Apocalyptic Radio that focus on experimental electronic music from harsh industrial to dark ambient. Present album is a semi-tribute album to the project of label owner Flutwacht. Flutwacht collaborate with a number of interesting artists released on the Apocalyptic Radio-label as well as other great acts. With Flutwacht being a creator of sonic darkness the overall atmosphere is nocturnal an intense. The expressions range from dark ambient (i.e. Xedh) across deep drones (i.e. Contagious Orgasm and TZII) and ritual moments (i.e. Bonemachine and Objekt / Urian) to extreme sound spheres of Harsh Noise (i.e. Antracot, Synomorph and Terg). Despite a few moments of rhythm textures, the compilation is dominated by ambient expressions with a flow that works very well indeed and thus keeps the listener glued from beginning to the end. Intense work! (Niels Mark) Address:

HECQ ­ - NIGHT FALLS (CD by Hymen Records)
German composer Benny Boysen was quite young when he began his musical explorations under the flag "Hecq". From the five year old debut album "A dried youth" (Kaleidoskop) to last year's "0000" (Hymen Records), Hecq has drawn the lucky listener to sound worlds developed as a mixture of downbeat electronica, discreet beat pulses of clicks'n'cuts and atmospheric ambience. On his brand new effort no. 5, Hecq has left the rhythm textures behind ultimately focusing on the sound of ambience. And the result is astonishing indeed. That Hecq knows how to create otherworldly ambient has been confirmed by earlier albums, but present album titled "Night falls" contains absolutely stunning images of deep ambient turning the memories back to legends of the space scene counting John Serrie and Michael Stearns. The atmosphere is grandiose with space choirs and gently moving sheets of orchestral ambience making it sufficiently pompous as soundtracks for the planetarium industries. On "Night falls", Hecq once more shows his skills as master of electronic atmospheres. Highly recommended! (Niels Mark)

German project "The Rorschach Garden" has been on the stage for quite a while by now. More than ten releases since the debut-7"-release "State project" (Bazooka Joe, 2001). The Rorschach Garden is headed by Phillip Münch who is also known for his part of legendary Power Noise-band Synapscape. Where Synapscape takes its starting point in the Harsh Industrial scene, The Rorschach Garden is the almost extreme contrast with a background in the electropop-scene. Latest album "Transfer" turns the memories back to the British technopop-scene of the early mid-80's sounding like a fusion of New Order and early Depeche Mode (post-Vince Clarke-era), with touches of Visage on a track like "Your face". Though The Rorschach Garden reminds of the heydays of 80's electropop the project still has their very own sound and style making them one of the interesting acts of the fast growing electropop scene these days. (Niels Mark) Address:

Where did I first hear the name Elodie Lauten? This question has been bugging me since I got the CD 'The Death Of Don Juan'. My best guess is at Dolf Mulder's when he was living close by and we shared evenings listening to music. Perhaps I am wrong. Maybe it was a name I once saw. But it's not something musical I remember - just this somewhat strange name. Elodie Lauten was born in 1950 in France and moved to New York in the seventies and embraced Buddhism. She worked with the late Arthur Russell, combining rock and classical music. In the mid eighties she released on her own label 'The Death Of Don Juan', a neo-opera, with not a linear story, but rather thoughts, memories etc. Lauten plays fairlight, amplified harpsichords and the trine - an electro-acoustic lyre. It's one of those forgotten classics that Unseen Worlds loves to release as one of the lost works of minimal music, and quite rightly so: here it is. The bad thing, my strict personal view speaking here, about operas is that there is singing in it. And that is usually my big problem with opera, operette or musical. But I am curious cat, so how would it sound in a more minimalist vein? Actually not bad, or rather better than I would have anticipated, although I am not convinced about the medium of opera. The music however is great, especially in the instrumental pieces that open up this album. Strong, jumpy minimalist pieces of music. When voices come in, the too operate from a minimalist vein, with repeated lines that have that phase shifting sense of Reich or Glass, but the instruments are definitely more 80s. I thought this was an interesting and curious record, rather than a great one. It's surely something one should have heard if minimalist music and whatever happened after 'Come Out' has your interest. (FdW) Address:

It's been a while since we last heard something new by Stephan Mathieu solo. Maybe the 'The Sad Mac' was the last one? I honestly don't recall. But of course things haven't been quiet for him. In the recent years he toured quite a bit with his 'Radioland' work. Here he plays with real time processed shortwave signals. Picking up from a simple receiver, feeding it into his self-built max-msp patches and transforming the signals into what is best described as 'Mathieu music'. Stephan Mathieu, whom I like to regard as one of the true masters of ambient glitch music, produces music here that is once again of absolute great beauty and expands beyond the 'softer' side of ambient music and goes into a bit more louder area, working with overtones created through multi-layering of such sounds. However, don't expect this to be harsh music or in fact static music. Mathieu knows how to move stuff around, finding small details in the music, amplifying them, lifting them out of the music and giving them life on their own. The minimalism of the godfathers of this kind of music (LaMonte Young, Palestine and Niblock) resonate through the computerized (but oh so warm!) version of Mathieu. What a great CD! And what a lovely package. A continuing peak in quality.
Also with a great package, digipack this time, is the work by Claudio Rocchetti, a member of 3/4Hadbeeneliminated, who gets help from a whole bunch of players (Valerio Tricoli, Margareth Kammerer, Madame P, Xabier Iriondo, Massimo Carozzi and the mastering help of Giuseppe Ielasi). Of course it's tempting to say, but there are connections to the sound world of 3/4Hadbeeneliminated: improvised playing on a variety of instruments - Rocchetti plays voice, guitar, turntable, cassette, field recordings, piano, percussion and last but certainly not least editing - which are all set on the hard disc recorder and then cut and pasted into music. However that's the similarity, there is also a difference: Rocchetti's solo music is less complex than the band, more intimate, more drone like but likewise beautiful. His guitar playing sounds like Ambarchi versus Ielasi, while his ominous drone music is more like Mirror or Monos. Nice intimate improvisation/drone music.
I never heard of Girolamo de Simone who is a piano player and composer, I believe more in an academic sense of the word. 'Shama' means 'to listen' but also 'to accept' and has eighteen relative short pieces, which do not only consist of piano playing but also electronic music. It's a bit hard to form an opinion on this music since the pieces are so brief. They are over before one realizes they have started, and as such they are quite different from each other. The piano pieces I liked best since they were calm, introspective and Satie like. The electronic pieces didn't do much for me. They seemed to be culled from a few samples which are let loose in space, but apparently not going anywhere in particular. A pretty much alright album, but for the next one it would be nice to focus on one thing a bit longer instead of many in this short time frame. (FdW) Address:

A CD of spoken word on the Incunabulum label, run by Jozef van Wissem. Frederick Farryl Goodwin is a writer/poet. That is about all I could trace about him. Warburton is a british born musician and writer living in Paris. I suppose he initiated this project and did most of the work.
The poems of Goodwin are central on this cd. They are printed in the nice booklet. Many people lend their voice for these recordings which was a good move. Listening to the same voice all over would be boring. The treatments by Warburton concentrate sometimes on the voices themselves. Sometimes several voices are speaking the same text with intervals. At other times the voice is a little manipulated. But there is more then the voice speaking and performing the poems of Goodwin. All poems are bedded in carefully compiled soundscapes, designed in function of the texts. There is much variation to be heard and Warburton has a good sense for detail. Sometimes however it sounded a bit unpronounced to me, although many sounds and sources are incorporated. Warburton invited also many musicians to contribute: Jac Berrocal, Bruno Meillier, Jean-Luc Guionnet, etc. So he had many ingredients to his disposal for composing his structures.
I t would be missing the point saying that Warburton composed attractive backgrounds for the poems. Because he treated the voices they are part of the sonic environment. And, even stronger, at times I had the feeling the rich sounds textures also 'speak' of the poem, or speak of what the poem is about. The soundscapes follow the content and meaning of the texts. For example in a piece like 'Violence' this is clear. So Warburton has done a very imaginative work here. (Dolf Mulder)

Two artists on Sedimental of whom I never heard. First there is Kyle Bobby Dunn, born in 1986 and since 2000 active as a composer, which is kinda young? He has had releases on This Generation Tapes, Housing and Kning Disk, so it's definitely going somewhere. Dunn plays the piano here as well as various electronic keyboards. At least, I think so. His music is best described as drone music with a classical music edge to it. Especially in 'Miranda Rights' the multi-layered violin is quite nice. It made me think of Olivia Block, even when field recordings don't seem to be playing a big role in the music, the dramatic built-up works quite well. Not every piece is that great, as in 'Sedentary 1' it rieks a bit to new age for my taste, even when it stays a bit on the dark side. At other times it reminded me of Mirror, which was good. Perhaps a bit unbalanced in its various approaches this CD, but throughout quite nice.
Wanke hails from Italy where he was born in 1977 and over the years he has played with Giuseppe Ielasi, Francesco Dillon, Stefano Pilia, David Maranha and others. Wanke used to play the saxophone, but these days it's the guitar. 'Caves' was recorded in Portugal using acoustic and electric guitars, saxophones and 'natural sound elements', using various effects to create a minimal version of acoustic drone music. His album is less scattered over the place and makes a much more homogenous impression on the listener. Wanke layers sound upon sound, starting with a few simple disparate sounds and then goes on and on to layers them until a somewhat (not to) dense mass of sound arrives. The influence of Ielasi (who mastered this album) is quite clear, even when Wanke stays more on the improvised side of things. Very nice record, this one, with solid improvised drone music. (FdW) Address:

Wordplay all around: Escaperhead, Nexsound PQP: these are the edges of popmusic and experimental music. Nole Plastique are from Russia and consist of Roman Kutnov and Alexei Belousov and 'Escaperhead' is their first album. It's quite a curious affair. Nole Plastique likes their popmusic, of a very special area. Sixties psychedelic music, with guitars, weird sound effects, vocals and keyboards, with little bits of drums here and there. The vocals reminded me of a local band, The Use Of Ashes (formerly known as Mekanik Kommando): the same somewhat far away sound, held back singing and very english. It's music that I would hardly play for fun, not because I don't like it, but because I own so very little of it. It's nice for a CD, which is deliberately recorded in a way that is not very good, but which could have been better I think. Nice enough, this twenty-first century stab at sixties psychedelics. (FdW)

Somewhere late morning I quit listening to music, go shopping for food and make dinner, which unlike other people I rather eat in the early afternoon than in the evening. Today I had my favorite pasta. As soon as I started to eat, I put in a CD, picked up the newspaper and started to read, eat and listen. The music was a compilation by Seed Records, their second one. It was almost like having a radio (which I don't have), varied but balanced, lots of rhythm oriented music, bits of guitar, vocals, techno rock and more such things. Like good radio, a pleasant trip and none of the tracks stood out - they were all pleasant to hear. Included were Zombi, Mokira, Sleeps In Oysters, Legowelt, Eyes, Skitanja, Alexander Robotnick, SJ Antoni Maiovvi & MC Fortuna, Tobias Schmidt, [s]!, dDamage, Neil Landstrumm, Mark Verbos, Jaques Lueder, The Doubtful Guest. Nice food, nice music. What more do you want? (FdW)

JEFF CAREY'S MOHA! (7" by Rune Grammofon)
Last saturday Extrapool re-opened their doors after a year long reconstruction job. The all-night party included many small concerts and performances. Due to little girls needing to head to bed, I didn't see it all, but MoHa! rocked the boat. Their full-on blast of drums, guitar, computer, keyboards and lights sounded cruel during the soundcheck, but in concert they got their full power and it worked amazingly well. A highlight right the start of the new Extrapool. Just a day before this 7" was released, which is a Jeff Carey (87 Central, Skif++, N Collective) rework of recording MoHa! made in Berlin. These two pieces will also be on their next CD in a different form. Carey lets his computer techniques run wild on the rock music of MoHa!. You can never achieve the same wildness as MoHa! has during their concerts, but you can try. Carey succeeds well, I think, but you have to put up the volume really high to get the same intensity level as with their concerts. But if you do so, everything falls into its place and you have a great rocking 7". Even a certain little girl liked it! (FdW) Address:

Waterscape is a new label, owned by Martin Fuhs, whom we also know as Seconds In Formaldehyde and it's mission is to release ambient music made by guitars. The first release is by Aidan Baker, our highly productive guitarist, who teams up here with Jakob Thiesen, who plays percussion, like he did on 'Desire In Uneasiness' by Nadja. Despite his many releases, Baker is a man to find new forms and shapes. On this release things are more experimental and improvised as opposed to being the more ambient player he is on some of his earlier solo releases. Baker tinkles away, sending his guitar through his many devices while Thiesen supplements nicely with percussive sounds, but it's more a supportive role than an active one or playing a 'solo' himself. The ambient element is not entirely gone, as much of it stays on an equal dynamic level and could perhaps pass on as a sort of rough shaped mood music. Nice stuff.
On a smaller size we find Jason Sloan, who is from Baltimore and in his work he explores 'various aspects of spirituality and it's connection to life, death, memory, religion and our transitory time on earth', via performances, installations, video etc. His one piece on 3" is 'Static [Thelema.dawning]' and it's indeed a static piece. Guitars are hard to recognize here, as they are stretched out into a long waving pattern of ambient sound. Eno meets Hypnos. Halfway through there is something of ghost like sounds, but maybe it's my perception that has gone blurry, which I guess is a good thing for this kind of music. Not original, but quite nice.
From Kyoto in Japan hails Hakobune who released on U-Cover before. His guitar playing sounds more like guitar playing, well, more than Sloan, but more ambient than Baker does on his release. Playing sparse notes, feeding them through an endless package of sound effects, but still maintaining to keep things nice and quiet, he creates nice atmospheric music, ethereal in 'Yukidaruma', but not falling into the traps of kitsch new age music. It has enough bite. Again not very original, but nice enough. (FdW)

There is a lot of information on the cover of the release by Inverz, about the individual tracks but nothing about the band or musicians themselves. So, I think the band is called Inverz, and judging by the music I think they are a guitar band with an experimental touch. Kinda like a post rock band with drums, but occasionally with a piano. When the guitars sound, the sound like ambient music meeting post rock, lots of reversed sounds, hiss, static but always throughout to be recognized as guitars. The piano pieces break this somewhat closed sound open. It's a nice release, but not really great or brilliant and perhaps a bit long.
Also operating from a post rock end is Tracy Lee Summers, rather a band than one person me thinks, whose songs are short, around two and half minute, and is recorded with a curious bunch of 'prepared drone guitar, pataphysidrum box, melotron, larsenphone, distorted strings, flute and saxophone'. With some of these I have an idea what they look like. Their music is scattered all over the place. All instrumental, but sometimes moody and textured and at other occasions uptempo with a supportive rhythm box. The variations make this quite a nice release, but the recording quality however is not the best around. (FdW) Address:

VIOLET - FOREIGN LANDS (CDR by Spirals Of Involution)
Over the past twenty or more years Jeff Surak has been very active in what some call the 'underground' and through an endless string of cassettes, CDRs, CDs he has gained quite a reputation. A reputation which brought him, not locked in the studio per se, all around the world, and the East Europe one has a special place for him. On Spirals Of Involution, one of Russia's first independent labels for noise music, we find this 2005 tour document. Violet, as the current name for his solo project is, was in Budapest, Pecs, Vienna and Yaroslavl (home of this label) to perform his music. Violet's music is always pretty interesting, since it moves all over the place. Using laptop, autoharp and sound effects, it crosses the fine line of the very soft to the very loud, seemingly without any flaws. Music for the mind, this is headspace music. Drones are an all important feature for him, but they can be soft but also loud and gritty. The four concerts captured here are best listened in one go. Aural cinema, always on the move, amplifying details, never losing the big picture. Refined music. Book him when he's around. (FdW)

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