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Vital Weekly 632

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Although I reviewed music by Wouter Jaspers, also know as Franz Fjödor before, I never had a good impression what his music is all about. It seems that he likes to confuse the listener, so that we never know what he is about (call in Herr Freud please). Following a string of net releases and CDRs (for labels such as TIBproductions (NO), Kourlyk Records (BE), Black Syndicate (NL), Goldsoundz (NO), Dirty Demos (UK), Zeromoon (US) and Emerson, Lake and Headache (RU)), there is now on his own (shared) label Vatican Analog a first proper CD release. On his myspace we read that he likes The Dark (his capitals, not mine) using hand-made instruments to create drones, depressed noise and dark folk. Now dark folk is something that I never want to approach - I do like dark things, and maybe even folk, but I'm allergic to the combination thereof. So I started playing this CD, prepared for the worst. What a relief: it's a very fine CD. Jaspers is young (22) and despite that age, he's music sounds quite mature, well perhaps for that piece in which he sings. To like The Dark is something that belongs to the youth, no longer to me, an old man. It's not a bad song, actually, but it's a bit out of place. In the other, instrumental pieces (save for some spoken bits, recorded in Chernobyl), he displays a love of all things dark indeed and drone based. Taking field recordings, from his many travels (he played 140 concerts in one year!), playing acoustic objects (like he does with Preliminary Saturation, his duo with Staplefahrer), he plays some very nice moody tunes. 'Voryspol' is the only real sung song, which works well in it is minimalist approach, but the singing is not my thing. It's at the end however. Best piece I thought was 'Geigercounting', using the aforementioned Chernobyl recordings. A scary piece of music. Throughout a work that is well made, and a most promising start. Remix album is already in the works. (FdW) Address:

It's hard to say something about someone's music, if you know him or her pretty well. I could do a difficult semantic trick, covering the fact that I know Jos Smolders but not that well, or some such, but I could also say that I am happy that at one point in time, I found 99 people willing to pay for a very private LP pressing of the first Jos Smolders 'Freebasing A For Is Me', which became the very first LP I ever released on my own label. It's good to see that LP mentioned in the small liner notes of a new CD by Smolders. Following his second LP, released by Quiet Artworks, shortly after my LP, Smolders went into a more conceptual direction, with a CD to be shuffled or re-altered in sequence order, a CD with some software on it, and a bunch of remixes thereof or a CD with music for a website. To mention only three of such projects. Always an idea behind it, and some of these, like 'Music For Kalx', are also musically quite alright, it never had the same feeling as his first two albums. For 'Gaussian Transient (Megaphone)', Smolders returns to the free form composing of his first album. What matters here is that the composition is great, not the idea. So a bunch of street sounds can be followed by the sound of a lighter, simple because it sounds right. As the former publisher of his first LP, I can of course only warmly greet this development. More and more I believe that at the end of the day I rather hear a great piece of music instead of a great idea about music. Smolders uses here a lot of field recordings from all over Europe, and includes some home produced crackle and bop. This is the Smolders we love and cherish: blocks of sound are switched by blocks of seemingly silence, subtle changes, abrupt changes, concentrating on small sounds, with a few big ones. All put cleverly into smaller pieces of music, each with its own clear structure. Away from the pure idea and back into the pure composition. Great CD!
Guitarist Will Montgomery has been around for quite some time, even when I only seem to remember him as Cosmonauts Hail Satan. Somewhere in spring 2006 he started to work with Nonvisual Objects boss Heribert Friedl, a musician who improvises on the hackbrett, but over the course of time it turned out that the marriage between the acoustic Friedl and the electric Montgomery. That was not the end of the collaboration, but it turned into a non-collaboration: Montgomery using the sounds of Friedl and that's why his name appears between []. It seems, purely by judging what I hear here, that the Hackbrett is taken into the digital territory for some solid transformation. Montgomery does a fine job of time stretching, pitch shifting and other sonic trickery, but it's less of surprise than the Smolders disc. Montgomery's processings sound a bit like textbook microsound processings of acoustic sounds, the kind of the ones you may have heard before. As said quite alright for what it is, but less of a surprise. The moving of pitches, times and frequencies are all a bit too regular for my taste, even when Montgomery does a fine job. (FdW)

On the press release for Sutcliffe Jügend's latest album on British label Cold Spring the fact is unmistakable. "Pigdaddy" contains some of the most fucked up, histrionic and downright bizarre vocals ever recorded. The man behind the truly sick vocals is brain-man of the pioneering Power Electronics-project Whitehouse. Sutcliffe Jügend is the side-project of Kevin Tomkins (Whitehouse). The cd-debut as Sutcliffe Jügend came on the private label for Whitehouse, Susan Lawly in 1994, but already back in 1982 Sutcliffe Jügend released a 10 cassette box-set on Come Organisation. Once again the power electronics artist makes sure that the listener won't feel comfortable throughout the six stories of depravity - 45 minutes of hell! Conceptually the album focuses on moral decay and sexual transgression. Expressionally Sutcliffe Jügend creates the perfect sonic atmospheres to the theme with filthy vocals of distorted screams and harsh electronics with associations back to both the pioneering electronics of Whitehouse and the early Industrial by Throbbing Gristle. Excellent stuff though don't play this for your granny! Talking about extreme vocals, Mike Duncan delivers some insanely inhuman growls on his latest release as Black Mayonnaise. Unquestionably this is human outburst that is able to compete with the vocals from aforementioned Sutcliffe Jügend. Black Mayonnaise delivers human growls so deep that the sense of humanity seems like non-existing here. The US-artist Mike Duncan wanders in the boundary-pushing combinations of extreme metal and harsh electronics. There is much weight put on the grindingly heavy distorted bass and mistreated drummachines. The latter aspect was also demonstrated on his contribution to the interesting compilation of extreme drummachine-programming on "Drummachinegun" (Relapse, 2006). The album titled "Unseen collaborator" is the sixth release as Black Mayonnnaise and it is truly abrasive stuff. Thus two great albums for listeners of extreme music, anyone else should take some precautions before diving into these two masterworks of sonic madness. (Niels Mark) Address: Address:

Three exercises in ear-crushing symphony on this one! Japanese noise-legend Masami Akita alias Merzbow opens the show with the astonishing work "Feedyellow mix"; a repetitive piece of aural machismo clocking 14 minutes runtime. With an excellent hypnotic atmosphere of blasting noise this is Merzbow at his very best. Second on stage is Sutcliffe Jügend with the utterly bizarre track "Pigmother" containing probably some of the sickest vocals ever recorded. Together with noises from something sounding like a distorted chamber orchestra the listener will feel anything but comfortable throughout the five minutes in company Sutcliffe Jugend. Last sound destructors are owner of Cold Spring, Justin Mitchell, in joint venture with Neil Chaney of Pessary. Operating under the name "Satori", the two sound pilots crush the hell out of the listener with a multi-layered noise-inferno. The work is a so-called "Hypnopompic" mix of the Paralysis-track originally from the "Kanashibari"-album released on the Dogma Chase-label in april month. Crushing drones of high frequency noise creates the ground layer meanwhile ritual rhythm textures of acoustic drumming add a great structure to harsh sound symphony. The result is hypnotizing and brutally intense. If you're looking for the art of contemporary noise music this split-album is a very good opportunity to destroy silence. Highly recommended. (Niels Mark) Address:

Following Mahmood Refat's Mort Aux Vaches CD, here is another real Middle Eastern composer, Tarek Atoui. He was born in Lebanon in 1980, moved to France in 1988 and studied at the Conservatory of Paris. Although his work is based in the field of the electro-acoustics, it's all computer based, using Max/Msp. Much of his work is made for theatre. There has not been many recordings available, but surely this may change after releasing on the ever high profile label Staalplaat. Much of this info I culled from the internet as Staalplaat never gives much information, so I was a bit surprised by what I heard. Many beats rolling over each other, hardly in a way that would induce any form of dance music and from the rhythms more abstractions are made in the computer. High pitched, quickly moving. Some of these beats could pass on a extreme breakcore music, hardcore gabber beats, but in a non sequential way, as to avoid any resemblance to dance music. In the pieces were the beats are down, either in tempo or in presence, Atoui plays music that I think is much more interesting. For instance in the final track he plays an interesting piece of music based on what could be middle eastern field recordings and remote electronics. I think it's the most interesting piece of the CD. In other pieces, such as the third, the nerve and hectic is nice too. One could argue that Atoui plays some nice form of plunderphonics in a true original form, but it could not always interest me throughout. Not bad, but not great either.
Recently somebody asked me for some information on the late Bryn Jones for a book that will be issued next year, and it occurred to me that he's been dead for nearly a decade. The flood of releases following immediately after he died has dried out, but still his main labels, Soleilmoon and Staalplaat, can cook up some new release by him. That is nice. As I told the writer of the book, I didn't know Bryn personally and only talked with him on the phone a couple of times. How rich he was with sounds, how sparse he was with words. I must admit I am not his biggest fan, but throughout every now and then, I'd like to hear his music, although I find myself not going back to many of his older releases, with the odd exception for 'Emak Bakia' or 'Azazzin'. True Muslimgauze fans have invented styles for particular areas of his music, like 'west bank style' and 'indian style'. I never could really grasp what that was all about. Of these two, 'Jaagheed Zarb' has no year indication, and 'Jah Mearab' is marked '1998'. The problem with Muslimgauze's music, and I noted this before, is that not everything he recorded was worth to release. He left his machines on all the time, recording every thought, notion or idea. A 'normal' record label would provide a selection of all those pieces that are great and then release one CD a year. Thank god, Staalplaat is not a normal label, and through these two releases, 'Muslimgauze Archive Series One and Two', we get to hear how he created these releases, and all the ideas are presented. I think that is nice, even only for the true die-hard fans. Maybe its due to my previous involvement on some kind of level with Muslimgauze that I can dig this too. These CDs are not mass-products, but for the true devoted fans, that want to hear it all. Pieces including small mistakes, wrong endings and such like. In that sense Muslimgauze's passing is not unlike say that of Jimmy Hendrix, Jeff Buckley or 2Pac, who had all their posthumous releases (and no doubt others which elude me right now). My feelings about this is a bit double. On one side I like this because it shows the method of operation of Jones quite well, but I can see why this would appeal to the real fans only and not many new ones will be attracted. (FdW)

When I opened this package, my first thought was that Hypnos was trying to pass on an old CD for review, perhaps not noting that we don't review stuff older than six months. The design of M. Griffin's 'Fabrications' is exactly the same as any Hypnos release from say ten years ago. Good; it's visibility. Bad; things haven't changed? Either way. At one point Hypnos decided not to send any promo's, so there is a serious gap here in what they did in those years. One thing is for sure, Hypnos' music can still be found in the areas of all things dark and ambient. Labelboss M. Griffin is also a musician and in the past he made some nice blueprints of ambient music. Looking at the cover, I suspected not much development, but that is not true. Gone are the days of the synthesizer and welcomed are the field recordings. From sounds from the ocean to footsteps in a tunnel and then towards a large electrical transformer, plus more, he collected them all, and transforms them using a bunch of software - all dully described on the cover of his release. Not that the music sounds radically different than his old work, but this new approach is kinda refreshing, I think. Somewhere in the back you can hear these field recordings coming a long, but they are well hidden in the grass that the music is. A field of sound, based of the sound of a field. Like much of this music there is only a few developments per track, but throughout has each piece a character of its own. Its good to see Griffin moving away from the world of synthesizer ambient and creating a similar kind of music with entirely new elements. As such this is a great disc.
Matt Borghi represents, I think the more traditional Hypnos sound. Stretched out, eerie fields of ambient music. Slow developments per track, washes of synths, subtle tones and such like. This is the alley where ambient has no innovation. Music like this has been sounding like for many years now. If you want music to be something new, to see any developments than you are most likely not a followers of whatever happens in this alley. It's very much like the music: a standstill. Other than that, I think Borghi is one of the better players in this field. 'Huronic Minor' contains some beautiful, relaxing, late evening music.
At the other end of the spectrum we find Darkened Soul, which is one Mike Soucy, who has had a couple of self-released CDRs as well as a release on Umbra, the label of Oophoi. 'Bathys' means deep in Greek and throughout the six pieces there is thematic approach of deep sea - a bathyscaph is just a difficult word for submarine. The music is dark, like a deep sea movie sound track of rusty vessels bouncing to eachother, metallic sounds clonck about, set against a dark set of drones played on (soft-)synths. Music that would fit easily on Mystery Sea. More experimental than Borghi and more noisy, if at all that is a word that is appropriate here, than Griffin. Three different angels of ambient music. Maybe to the outsider the margins are small, to the initiated essential. (FdW) Address:

The Netherlands have an excellent reputation when it comes to what some call 'minimal synth' music. Bands like Ensemble Pittoresque, Storung and Van Kaye & Ignit helped that reputation, and to this the various bands on Trumpett Tapes should be added. The Actor, Ende Shneafliet and Doxa Sinistra were the main acts, but the various members of these bands also worked together in lots of different formations together. They are still around, and much of their work can be bought on CDR. I have an excellent, beautiful 25 CDR set with much of the labels' 80s output. 'Conveyer Belt' by Doxa Sinistra was not released by Trumpett Tapes but by ADN from Italy - they were the only band to expand their releases to other labels - there is one on Ladd-Frith too. Hanjo Erkamp and Brian Dommisse are the two men behind Doxa Sinistra and thanks to Enfant Terrible, who keep digging the mud to find these treasures, it's now available on LP. That is great news, if only for me. Doxa Sinistra's music hasn't aged at all. The sharp rhythms, industrial even at times, sequences and synthesizers, cut up radio snippets: its still the music that I enjoy very much. This is probably where my judgment gets clouded by memory. I am aware of that. I was playing this and thinking: suppose I heard this for the first time today, knowing it was old (from 1984!), how would I then perceive it? Of course a ridicule question, which I can't answer. There is so much more parameters to be set then (how old am I, do I like this kind of music, what do I know about music? etc). Now it's a perfect meeting of something which I know from the past, which I liked back then, which I still think is great today. Good, experimental popmusic. Just excellent. More on vinyl please from this great band. (FdW) Address:

Two really beautiful picture disc LPs by Elevator Bath, and for Jim Haynes the follow up to his excellent CD 'Telegraphy By The Sea' (see Vital Weekly 548). Haynes is foremost known as a writer, but he has also played with Loren Chasse as Coelacanth, with Keith Evans, Steve Stapleton and Matt Waldron, and especially with the work of Waldron (sometimes better known as irr. app (ext.)) there are strong ties. Two new pieces here on this LP, in a similar vein as the CD: field recordings are treated around, looped, changed, altered, modified. On one side (it's a bit hard to decipher which side is what here) this is a bit more harsher than usually, while on the other side it seems we are hearing ventilation systems, layered, to create a vast, rich pattern in sound. Drone like this side, while the other is more 'chopped' up, more a collage style, but not in a same free form, as everything flows nicely into eachother. Music that ties him into the work of Matt Waldron or say Nurse With Wound in a drone mood and certainly highly influenced by The Hafler Trio. However with this record, the somewhat louder approach course taken here, makes that Haynes finds more a voice of his own. A small step perhaps, but an essential one.
From the improvisation world of Texas comes Rick
Reed, who has been around for quite some time, playing with Keith Rowe (it's this Rick from that AMM title), the Abrasion Ensemble and Sirsit, of whom I never heard. He has had various solo releases on Elevator Bath before. These two pieces here were part of something bigger: one as a 'live visual display by filmmaker Ken Jacobs', and the other one could be an alternative soundtrack to a piece by one Fred Worden. Reed uses a EMS Synthi A, two sine wave generators and a shortwave radio. The first side, if I detected that alright, is a very minimal piece of soft flowing, high pitched tones. Like far away insects chirping whilst the dawn sets in. Over the course of the side dawn gets dark and insects quiet out. The other side start out in the middle of the dark night but it stays night: dark humming organ like drones, which are filtered out over the course of the piece, until some chorus like sounds drop. Of these four sides, this is the most single minded, and for me the least interesting, even when it's not bad either. Two fine to great records, lovely picture disc and highly limited. Yummy. (FdW) Address:

VODOU (LP compilation by Galleri 54)
Its a bit difficult to say how the exhibition looked like by judging from its catalogue, but the record sounds nice. If I understand well, the pieces on the record make the exhibition. The theme was 'a story about the spiritual, rooted in the tradition of folk tales. Fairytales and fables once bridged the borders between the Nordic countries'. Yet this is not entirely an album with just spoken word, as it also includes songs and even instrumentals. Its an interesting collection of a lot of people I never heard of before, like Leif Holmstrand, Iwo Martin, Bjargey Olafsdottir, Vinyl-terror & -horror, Ragnar Kjartanson, Ingvild Langgard and Thora Dolven Balke, Bo I Cavefors, Chisel and Leander Djonne. So only Kira Kira and Par Thorn I heard before. As a music lover I prefer the instrumental pieces most, like Chisel's guitar playing, Par Thorn's almost Hauswolff like piece and the bats recording of Iwo Myrin. They are a minority here, but provide a fine counterpart in the various spoken word pieces, which aren't always a spooky as the theme suggests. Nice record, although it's not something you'd play everyday, I guess. (FdW) Address:

From the very old synthesizers, brands like Serge
and Buchla, there aren't many around. I saw both at the EMS studios in Stockholm, and they are true beasts to use. So many knobs and cables. but they create a great sound, once you learned some basic tricks. I have no idea where Sam Pluta and Jeff Snyder recorded their buchla and serge sounds, but they did and made 'ExclusiveOr'. I don't know wether this was played in real time, or the result of first taping sounds and then making music with the various sound files. Somehow I think it's the latter, but of course I could be all wrong. The music they created with it, nine tracks in total, display a good sense of noise, but as before I like to refer to this as 'noise plus': there is more happening than some random sounds running amok. They take back speed and brutality in favor of sounds at a more lower volume, create loops, place sounds left/right and per piece actually try to compose, a task in which they succeed well. Maybe some of the pieces are a bit long, but it also arrives at a cut 'n paste prototype techno piece as '1011-0011'. Great release, once again on Quiet Design (following Josh Russell's macrosound). (FdW)

LUPUS GOLEM - MINOTAURE (MP3 by Twilight Luggage)
It was quiet for some time with the music by Danny Kreutzfeldt from Denmark, but here he returns with a long distance project with one Filipe Cruz from Portugal under the guise of Grohvrascht. Announced by Twilight Luggage as 'harsh, glitchy noise', which is not entirely true. They play some upfront piece (actually seven pieces) of music, but it's not the over the top noise as one could expect from such a description. There are traces to the world of noise, but they have a bit more to offer than just that. Grohvrascht try to compose with the material at hand and do such in quite a nice way. With variation, with thought and with a certain balance between the 'mild loud' and the 'super loud', like highly amplified ambient drones running amok. Nice.
Recently I reviewed a CDR release by Lupus Golem, also on Twilight Luggage (see Vital Weekly 625) and here this trio from Norway returns with two more heavy weight slabs of noise rock. Fierce, loud, feedback flies about, the drums sound top heavy. Pscychedelic. I guess this is nice, although not entirely my cup of tea, but I think this is music that should be above all be felt in concert. No doubt I would be banging my head to it. I already did here. (FdW) Address:

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