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Vital Weekly 630

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ATHANA REMIXED 0508 (CD compilation by West Audio Productions)
Sometimes I just fail to understand things, simply because an incomplete picture is offered. I never heard the music of Athana, also known as Alf Terja Hana, so how I am to judge a remix album of his music? Other than perhaps just another compilation? Because that's what it is now, an album of electronic music, with remixes mostly by people I never heard of. The only two names I recognized were Pal Asle Pettersen and HOH, the latter being the initiator of this album. It's an album that fits the nice warm weather of today. Techno, sweaty music, laidback tunes, dubby rhythms, acid, funk, breakcore and even some more experimental moments that don't seem out of place in this lot. Just like last week's Seed Records compilation, this is an album of music that is best enjoyed while doing other things, like eating or reading. A radio if you will. Included are Sternklang, Ost & Kjex, Mungolian Jet Set, Uko, HOH, Nes, Cüret, Vasøk, Qrt, DJ Woo, Lingouf, Ars Dada and Pal Asle Pettersen. (FdW) Address:

Of all the people in Russia doing music, Alexei Borisov is perhaps one of older statesmen, with a long standing career in all sorts of music. I saw him last week in Moscow playing guitar in what seemed to be Russia's answer to The Plastic Ono Band, but thank god he does other music as well. Electronic music, played with old soviet gear and laptop. 'Multiviza' is a collection of music he recorded between 2003-2005 while being on the road. A road that brought him to Strahlsund, Montreal, Chicago, Kiev, Warsaw, Tomsk, Berlin, Tallinn and Barcelona - and if you are a bit well-informed you can fill in the names of the various festivals were he played. Borisov plays noise music, but something in which some more happens than just a load of noise. Extreme filtering on the oscillators, high pierced sounds, but also deep end bass sounds, radio waves leak in and sometimes things form themselves into some sort of beat - think Pan Sonic if you will, but less groovy. Sturdy experimental noise music that works best if you play it really loud. Then it works best and then one can capture the 'live' feel best. Noise as it should be, I think. (FdW) Address:

If you read that all music was 'pervaded, shaped and inspired' by field recordings and then you hear Parking Non-Stop, you might be surprised - to say the least. Parking Non-stop, a band from Wales, have travelled over the world, and made recordings, but incorporate that in 'real' music - Zoe, Alan and Dewi use vocals, bass, guitar, moog and organ - to mention a few. But especially the vocals may seem a bit odd here, since they provide the 'real' musical element - this is popmusic. But popmusic with an odd element, like church bells, nautical winch, rhythms played by woodpeckers, people talking and even a poem read in dutch! The field recordings however have a supportive role, the music is always just a bit louder than the field recordings, so perhaps its not that special, just perhaps a 'funny' element thrown into the music. The good thing is that all of these sounds are well documented in the booklet, to the precise date and location, which makes this easy to follow for the listener. The music itself is electronic, with bass and and guitars as extra's and it's all intended as listening music. Pleasant, story-like, this is a fine combination between regular music and radioplay. Perfect sunday afternoon music. (FdW) Address:

MALUCO - RIGHT TIME (CD by Karaoke Kalk)
Three people are behind Maluco: Max Loderbauer, Pier Buci and Argenis Brito. They all live in Berlin and although I never heard of them, their bio's look good. Brito is the singer of Senor Coconut (ok that I know, but didn't recognize the name), plays minimal techno house - which seems the common ground for all three players. Brito sings here too and that adds a curious latin american style to the music. Music which is not always sunny, like in the somewhat dark piece 'Dreamer', but throughout a dub/reggae style is strongly present in this lot. Laidback rhythms, with likewise laidback guitars, singing and electronics. Warm and melodic. Sunny and lazy. Summerlike music. Like Parking Non-stop, reviewed elsewhere, good music for a sunday afternoon - a hot afternoon that is. Nice one. (FdW) Address:

Nothing is for a musician more annoying than a response like: whatever you are doing, it sounds like a test tone, alarm signal, hiss or worse: I think your equipment is broken. So when Carl Micheal von Hauswolff was asked by the Istanbul Biennale to make a site specific work at their airport, he was probably very annoyed when they turned down his piece of low rumbling, because it could have caused alarm. So instead he created something else, on a Yamaha QY22, using preset sounds only - probably to annoy the organizers. Now both versions are released as part of this double CD - the rejected piece on one CD, and the accepted on the other. The rejected piece is indeed a piece of low rumbling, a bit of hiss sounds (long waves picked up from the ether I think) which may not have worked at the airport - depends of course on how things are presented - but for home listening I must say this is quite nice. Perfect Hauswolff styled hiss music. And what a difference indeed with the accepted version. Four pieces there of lounge like music, but with a more forceful rhythm underneath, so it wouldn't entirely work in lounge bar. But you can imagine people at an airport, hastily walking along Hauswolff march like beats and bittersweet keyboards with a vague trace of arab-like sounds. This is a side that we haven't heard from him before, and it's not something he should do a lot (or in fact never did again, as far as I can recall), but it's surely a curious album. (FdW) Address:

There is a small picture of A Slow Rip on the press text along with this double CD, which show the band as not exactly young man, but their names are new to me: Phil Turnbull, Ian Miles and Rob Laurie, who play music through means of improvisation on guitar, percussion, vocals, wind instruments, analogue synths, bass and virtual analogue synth. Everything is recorded live to the computer, where the material is edited. Over the past few years they recorded seven CDrs of which 'For The Time Being' is a best of. All three players have an extensive background in Australia's music life and play various instruments. That is something that can surely be heard on this release. CD one is apparently more synthesizer based and the tracks are pretty dark and moody, but the atmospherics are kept alive through relatively short (between three and eight minutes) pieces, which have enough to say and never fall short in variation. Things drone and hum nicely away. The second disc has more rhythmic interjections in the music, not really the techno kind, but nice, gentle rhythms that guide a music that is a bit more opened in its structure. This is the more musical side of the band, and other instruments than the synthesizer play a role. It shows indeed another side of the band, and usually I could say that two CDs is too long but in this case it rather works well. Not having heard the previous CDRs of which this is culled, but I can easily imagine these two discs form the complete picture of the band. Nice one. (FdW) Address:

Maybe the name Bartek Kujawski doesn't ring any bell at all, but maybe you know him better as 8rolek, who released three albums on Mik Musik. That project is currently on hold, but will return, and for now we deal with the very first record under his own name. The reason is that this is something different than 8rolek. Whereas that project is held together by beat related music, this is entirely gone, and replaced by loops of all sorts. Classical music, noise, electronic music, everything seems to be thrown into a hardcore blender which the computer can sometimes be. Kujawski treats the material beyond recognition and makes at times chaotic sound collages and at other times things are quite pleasant and relaxed - in as far that was ever his intention. This is the more serious side of him, and almost sounds like a real composer at work here. Things work best in 'Onion Tears', the final piece of the CD and the longest with some more sturdy composing at work. (FdW) Address:

'The exercise of the internal demons', the possibility to expose his obsessions through audio. 'Exorcizo', the title of Israel Martinez' CD, is Spanish slang created with the works exorcism and exercise. If one reads his biography, where he played concerts and some of the prizes he won, you may expect some highly serious, academic form of electro-acoustic music. But that's half the story, I guess. Martinez adds humor to his music, as well as some force to the sounds he uses. Take 'Ma Vida', which starts with the ignition of a car, then a car ride and, how sad, a car crash, all spiced up with car engine sounds. Now that is humor, and noise, I guess. And the recurring theme of noise comes back in the other four tracks too. As said Martinez likes a bit of noise in his music, thus hiding his original sound sources, but he doesn't step into the trap of pure distortion or being too academic in his processing, but rather tells us a nice story of his own, as each of these pieces is a narrative (without words) piece of music, like 'Epidermis', using the sound of someone getting a tattoo, but changing into a massive, machine like piece. This is the noise that I like: thoughtful, loud and simply good. (FdW) Address:

Following his CD release on Headspin Recordings and a 7" for Static Caravan, here follows a LP by Ass, also known as Andreas Söderström. Again he plays guitar, lots of guitar in fact, organ, a bit of drums, horns, accordion and even a bit of singing, This is not the usual Vital Weekly cup of tea, but despite that, it's a great record. Think Tape, but less in digital folk manner, the finger picking technique of Ass is more traditional but of incredible beauty. Outside the sun is shining and it's nicely hot, and this music is the perfect soundtrack. One could imagine to be in some southern US state, sitting on a porch and hearing this music. Dark at times, sweet at other times. Most instrumental, but his voice matches the music perfectly. Like said, hardly music that belongs the daily digest of a reviewer for these pages, but perhaps just because of that, this is a very fine record. What else can I do than play the previous record again, and if time allows, listen to some John Fahey also? The afternoon will be filled with acoustic guitars and finger picking techniques. A pity I don't have a porch to sit on, but the balcony will do as fine. (FdW)

The name David Papapostolou popped up once in Vital Weekly, in issue 555 with his self-released 'One Two' release, in which he played acoustic guitar, cello and soprano saxophone, but on his recent live recording with one Daniel Jones (turntables, dulcimer and acoustic guitar) he plays mixing desk feedback and computer with pickup. The recording is divided in six pieces, although it's one piece of sheer softness. The two play around with the notion of silence and sound, the presence of sound and the lack thereof, even when most of the time there is in fact something to hear. Carefully they explore their sound sources and know how to create an interesting, intense piece of music, moving the listener through various states of mind. Music that requires intense listening otherwise things will not make much sense. Close your windows, turn up the volume and listen. Improvised music of the next level. (FdW)

I was already introduced to the music of Sergey, the man behind Five Elements Music through his release on Mystery Sea (see Vital Weekly 588) but now that I can point a face to the name, after seeing two very nice concerts by him and Kryptogen Rundfunk, it means something more to me. So these things go, I guess. Sergey uses many, many field recordings all five elements (ether, air, fire, water and earth) in his music, which he builds as a long collage. Two untitled pieces on this release which displays his working method quite well. All of the natural sounds he recorded are fed through a bunch of sound effects, but he manages to keep things under control. The music moves through various parts (paths?) inside each track but there is a homogeneity in the music that makes this dark drone thing work remarkable well. His processing doesn't sound like a computerized one, but analogue, making things a bit rougher than the usual microsound artist, but therein lies the power of Five Elements Music. Fans of Mirror should pay attention to this new name! (FdW) Address:

On New Zealand's Postmoderncore two new names for me. Grant Beran uses an old record player, second hand microphones, discarded tape recorders and 'various bits of wire'. 'The Another Ones' is his first album and turntables are at the centre. Not every moment is great around here, but throughout its a fine album. Beran creates loops of rhythm, and to which he adds all sorts of sounds ripped from records. Despite his love for lo-fi gear, this doesn't very lo-fi to me. Beran's music is quite present. It seems as if he takes his ideas from trip hop turntablists, putting old sounds into new contexts, but he does that in a much more crude manner than the polished trip hoppers. Nice, a bit long for the amount of ideas.
Labelowner Sam Stephens works as Unknown Rockstar. He has had more releases which I didn't hear, but apparently this is a continuation of earlier work, exploring drone music through the use of guitars, keyboard and electronics. Three long pieces of New Zealand's finest lo-fi trademark sound. Once sound is set in motion, things stay there and develop in a very slow manner. Music for a state of mind in which things alter through the use chemicals. The soundtrack for a good (and plenty) amount of beer or joint. Not that there is any around, just coffee and nicotine, but you catch my drift. Also perhaps a bit long, but let me check later when that state of mind is reached. (FdW) Address:

INDUCTIE (CDR compilation by Sqrt Label)
If you wouldn't know better then this would sound like just another compilation. But it's not. It's a thematic approach here: 'all the compositions in this album, guitar was the only sound source. All further manipulations to the guitar signal were allowed', we read on the cover. And then on second hearing this makes sense. In some cases we don't recognize the guitar at all, hence the 'wrong' original approach, but if one listens closely enough one can detect guitars all around. Olaf Rupp's unique approach to the acoustic guitar stands out: no processing, just playing the strings in a way that only he can. There is also distorted guitars, drone guitars and pieces in which the guitar seems to have vanished, sank into the sampler, computer or perhaps a long line of sound effects. Included are emitter, Christopher Riggs, Charles Lavenac, Red Needled Sea, Janin Benecke, Pawel Janowski, Lukasz Ciszak, WoO and Andy Jarvis. A pretty varied bunch with not many weak brothers around. Of course there could have been more people (Aidan Baker, Fear Falls Burning?), but now its still a pretty much o.k. release. (FdW)

JOHN CLAIR & JED SHAHAR - TENNIS (CDR by Fenimore Records)
Two more new names for me: John Clair and Jed Shahar, who use the 'usual' array of contact mics, metal objects, field recordings, electronic devices, piano and saxophone in four lengthy cuts on their 'Tennis' album. I believe they are from the USA but as far as they sound they could also be from New Zealand with their somewhat lo-fi approach to music. Rumbling on metal, a piano string being struck, feedback from cheap oscillators and that sort of thing. Not to different from say Metal Rouge, even when these two boys seem to put some more effort in making a recording and editing. Their pieces sound thoughtful, delicate and don't drag on on end. Despite the fact that its all made through improvisation, this has tension and variation throughout, making this stand out of a lot of things from New Zealand. Drone based, improvised and yet managing to sound composed: quite an effort. (FdW) Address:

SAMPLE SCIENCE - PLASTIK DISC (CDR by Brown Coffee Recordings)
No money was spent on releasing this in any proper way, just a cheap xerox, but apparently its on a label - Brown Coffee Recordings, run by Sample Science himself. He's from Montreal and plays music since 1999. 'This is not a disc of noise or 'hard' music. I wouldn't even consider it experimental. This is just unpretentious 'easy-on-the-ears' music' it says on the cover and that is very much true. He uses a computer using FL Studio and plug-ins and the outcome is quite pleasant ambient electronics, a bit of IDM, a bit of break-beat, but throughout it's the ambient side that takes the lead here, with warm keyboard sounds. A bit of Tangerine Dream like sequences with a nice techno sauce. Indeed no pretensions around this bunch of tracks, which you can put on, enjoy and then forget all about. Sometimes that's all you need. (FdW) Address:

PACIFIC 231 - STIF(F)LE (CDR by Monochrome Vision)
Russia's Monochrome Vision indeed has a monochrome vision when it comes to packaging: all black and white, so much to my surprise this limited CDR of a live recording released by Monochrome Vision of French Pacific 231 is a full cover cover. The music is taken from three concerts in Russia in September last year. Pacific 231 has a long career in industrial music, but to be honest, I wasn't always the biggest fan. However these live recordings sound pretty interesting. Pacific 231 uses 'advanced feedback technology, based on the manipulation of sounds through motion sensors feeding and controlling a projected visual imagery'. The feedback waves about and the sensors pick up motions from the body and that controls and changes the sound, especially in the long third track, in the best Arcane Device going ambient phase. This is an excellent release, which is far better than anything I ever heard from him in the past twenty years. I would have loved to see it! (FdW) Address:

VOLONTE (CDR by Taumaturgia)
A new label from Galicia, the northern part of Spain, and they release improvised music, the music of here and now. I received information on three releases, but there were only two in the parcel. The first is by a band named Volonte, a five piece (but working in various combinations, here four are present) from Galicia and the recordings here were made in October 2007. Must have been a fruitful (or long) day, since it has 76 minutes of music on it. The instruments are guitar, circular saw, alto sax, electric violin, drums and percussion. Their improvisations are loud and noisy, even when they sometimes pull back gear and make a few moments of silence. The recording is a pretty much 'in your face affair' and especially the alto saxophone plays like he wants to create some sort of feedback. I must say that I rather enjoyed it, but that the overall length was a bit too much. Not every moment of their playing was equally strong, but it of course fits the idea of improvisation.
The drummer of Volonte is Rafael Mallo, who is also responsible for a solo release called 'vribacion' and it has him solo on his kit and percussion. His six tracks are much shorter, but also entirely improvised. The vibrations of the kit work well coming to this listener, but here too, I think the same. Why so long (although it's 2/3 of Volonte's release) and if improvised music is so much a thing of the here and now, why release it? Wouldn't it be better to present this music solely through concerts and not through which releases which are here tomorrow and there too? These were the things I was thinking about when playing Mallo's release, which, as said, surely has its moments, certainly in the louder moments of the disc. Perhaps to be seen as a presentation card for his qualities? He certainly has them, if you are looking for a wild punk jazz drummer. (FdW) Address:

Gish is a new name for me. Its a guitarist cum mixing board/electronics improviser who plays with $un$hine Republic, Jack Nicholson trio and with drummer Rich Preston. Here he plays solo. It's hard to believe that there is 'just' a guitar at work with some electronics. The material sounds very electronic to me and the guitar is barely recognizable. Gish operates from a microsound perspective: minimalist changes, low in volume, sine wave like material, glitchy rhythms. It all sounds like a 'been there, done that', but he manages to make things sound like something of his own, combining various interests - improvisation, microsound, electronics - and thus creating a very nice hybrid version of his own. Think early Ielasi, if you need a name to compare it with.
On a small size we find music by Micheal Thomas Jackson (who records as Michealthomasjackson), who has a long career in experimental music, with many releases on his own Primecuts Recordings label. Here he has three 'improvisations for prepared electric bass guitar and signal processors' recorded live. We are warned that any 'clicks, pops, cancellations and difference tones [...] are an inherent part of these works'. No doubt his bass playing master didn't teach him to play the instrument like he does here, as this is a massive, loud work of harsh sounds. Metallic rumble, loads of distortion, that kind of thing which makes this into quite a noisy beast. It's o.k., because it's short, more would have been tedious.
The Four Fisherman is a project of mainly Ben McElroy, who receives help from a bunch of people on drums, double bass, clarinet, violins and cello. He was already present on a compilation by Dirty Demos, but here he's back with a debut EP of four tracks. The music couldn't have been further away from the Jackson release. The music is folky with touches of country & western and psychedelica and would not have been out of place on Constellation Records or Static Caravan. Ben sings his songs with the strings in full support. 'Train Minus Train' is a lovely drone like piece of music, and '(Destroy) The Heart Machine/Summer Of 70' has a full lead of clarinet. Strange release this one, but it's quite nice. I think they should hunt for a real record deal. (FdW) Address:

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