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Vital Weekly 633

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EMERALDS - SOLAR BRIDGE (CD by Hanson Records)
In 2005 a trio started out using television sets as their prime sound sources to create drone music. They are called Emeralds and they have moved on to using analogue synthesizer, guitars and lots of effects to create their music. So far they released their work on cassettes and CDRs on such labels as American Tapes, Chrondritic Sound as well as their own labels Wagon and Gneiss Things. 'Solar Bridge' is their first 'real' CD. For one reason or the other I expected some heavy noise type of music, but actually its not, and the result is something that pleases me a lot, save perhaps for the fact that its only twenty six minutes (perhaps it has to do with the fact that there is going to be a vinyl version of it too). These two tracks bridge the wide gap between 'cosmic' music on one hand and 'loud drones' on the other. Say Ash Ra Temple meeting Mirror on a very dark night. Highly atmospheric music with in 'The Quaking Mass' slowly builds up to an intense wall of guitar sound. Many years of swirling guitar sounds in 'Magic', make this into some very nice psychedelic and perhaps even psychotic music (be careful with the drugs boys and girls). Excellent stuff going on here, and one could have only wished for a third and perhaps even a fourth piece here. (FdW) Address:

Sonic Arts Network, founded in 1979, is a UK organization promoting the art of sound. For the project that is documented on this new CD, the organization invited David Moss to curate it. On his turn Moss invited singers with the following instruction: "Blood, Muscle and Air' is about the power and intimacy of the human voice; imagine yourself sitting in front of a microphone recording this piece as if you were singing directly into the ear of the listener. Send a piece that reflects how you love singing at the moment." About a dozen of well-known and not so well-known vocal artists accepted the invitation and returned their contributions.
Here we go: Melissa Madden Gray, Gunnlaug Thorvaldsdottir, Chris Mann, Yumiko Tanaka, Médéric Collignon, Jaap Blonk, Fatima Miranda, Phil Minton, Maja Ratkje, Tran Quang Hai, Koichi Makigami, Madalena Bernardes, Martyn Jacques. From the 29 tracks on this cd Moss does all the uneven ones. Most of them are very short and function as interludes between the contributions by the others. Most pieces are solo efforts, but in some pieces the vocalist is helped out by other musicians. Like Thorvaldsdottir who is acompanied by didgeroo-player William Barton. And in 'Heart Murmur' by Melissa Madden Gray we hear also the voice of composer Cornelius Wilczek. Pieces differ also concerning the amount of treatment the voice recording underwent. 'I've heard that one' by Chris Mann is not manipulated if I,m not mistaken. Also 'Improbration' by Médéric Collignon is just pure voice. For other compositions however the vocalist manipulated the voice recording afterwards in order to construct a piece of music. For example, 'Palimpsiesta II' by Fatima Miranda II., a multilayered piece of several voicetracks of Fatima. The piece by Jaap Blonk, 'Idling on Air' is a curious exception. It doesn't sound like the human voice. It is as if you're listening to some archaic electronic instrument. But it is his voice only. Than Quang Hai is an exception for another reason. He is the only one making use of traditional singing techniques. He makes an impressive use of overtone technique. In 'Wittgenstein Sings' David Moss takes some more time to develop a piece. He constructed a composition where he moves from pure sound to verbal parts using some electronics and objects. The cd ends with 'The Pedophile in the Park' by Martyn Jacques. The only piece on this cd that could be called a song. A very bizarre and eccentric Eisler-Waits kind of tune. All in all this a great introduction into the world of vocal artists. Showing the great diversity in expression, timbre, volume, etc. etc., that is possible by that one instrument: the human voice. (Dolf Mulder)

ALVA NOTO - UNITXT (CD by Raster-noton)
Like I would know it all, people ask me sometimes why Alva Noto/Carsten Nicolai is such a great name, travelling the world, and 'all he does is what we do'. That of course is not true. Nicolai can be seen as one of the founding fathers of clicks and cuts movement, playing music with laptops, crossing over from techno to the experiment, and just is of course a well-known visual artist, which capacity provide his work in audio with the necessary conceptual backbone. 'Unitxt' is no different. I must admit I have a serious lack in knowledge in his more recent work, although I heard 'Xerrox', which I thought was alright but not great. On 'Unitxt' he uses the rhythms again, and incorporates texts. The work was made for Unit, a great club in Tokyo. In strict tempo of 120 beats per minute, Nicolai offers ten tracks of his trade mark sound: deep bass bumps, distorted sine waves on top, moving in and out of the mix. Yet, the music may be derived through entirely digital means, Nicolai knows how to create a raw feel to the material, an organic feel if you wish, and not a clinically clean sound. The text elements contains of .txt data turned into audio, rather than spoken words (save for two tracks, which are actually roads to explore for Nicolai). After the ten pieces there is fifteen more small pieces of source material, so no doubt many aspiring, would-be Nicolai's will open that in Ableton Live and play around with what's on offer. Good luck, as things won't be easy! This album is not an entirely new Nicolai approach, but it's certainly one that fits the catalogue of Nicolai works very well. (FdW) Address: http://www.raster-noton-net

PITA VS Z'EV - COLCHESTER (CD by Editions Mego)
Two of our favorite musicians apparently know each other for two decades, which may seem odd. Pita's Peter Rehberg first surfaced around 1996 when he started to play, as one of the first, live computer music, mostly embedded in a field where improvisation meets noise. And as far as I can see Z'EV has been around since thirty years and never left. In 2004 they first talked about playing together and exchanged sound files through e-mail, before taking their action on the road. In 2006 they played in Vienna and a bunch of cities in the UK. 'Colchester' is the final result of that collaboration, with Z'EV playing acoustic percussion and Pita altering it through computer manipulation. Neither of the two take the leading part in the meeting, but are equal partners. Z'EV's part may seem to take more presence, as his metallic percussion lies more on 'top', but underneath things cook, melt, freeze and explode in Pita's laptop, as he provides the perfect hot bed for Z'EV to operate in. Two great minds think alike. Maybe the recording could have been a bit more bright, but no doubt this is the sort of thing that is not easy to capture. However what is captured is just very fine. (FdW) Address:

So far the name Nicolas Bernier popped when doing collaborations with other people, so 'Les Arbes' may be his first solo release. The title means the trees and, well, ok, its also a collaboration, even when only through the visual side, with Urban9. A set of card by him is part of the package. So far, also, we thought of Bernier as a laptop musician, but for this release he has expanded his methods of musical expression to using piano, vibraphone, guitar and even brass instruments. Other than his previous works too this seems to be less a work of improvisation and more a work of thorough composition. This is where digital music and acoustic music meet and melt. Glitchy rhythms, sounds of crackle, but also warm guitar parts, brass section and sustained strings. Not right from the start and not all the way clear, but as things move along, you could almost as suddenly find yourself inside a modern classical piece of music, in 'Piano' or 'Spleen', with flutes, crescendo violins and piano. This is quite an amazing CD, with great ideas, perfect execution, nice packaging and a way out of the locked in microsound artists. Bernier plays microsound, mixes it with real instruments and comes up with something new. (FdW) Address:

FREIBAND - REPLICAS (CD by Monochrome Vision)
"Highly conceptual project that combines features of remix, recycling and plagiarism - the re-interpretation of Asmus Tietchens' classic album "Daseinsverfehlung". All what can be heard on this CD, is made from music that already existed: every sound, word in titles and even the cover picture - all is just processing and manipulation techniques." I was in Hamburg, some weeks ago, and there I happened to meet Asmus Tietchens with whom I exchanged some words about Freiband's "Replicas" album (which is a re-interpretation of Tietchens' "Daseinsverfehlung" album). He told me that the De Waard made a complete remix of his album, which even includes a remake of the album's cover artwork. I noticed that Tietchens was pleasantly amused by this total approach displayed by Freiband. He asked me if I knew the original cover. I didn't, but he told me that I should look out for it since the photo manipulation, for one, has his unconditional blessing. "Daseinsverfehlung" features 13 works that carry the same title, namely "Freiband". Distinction is placed, by adding numbers to the titles. "Replicas" follows the same routine; 13 tracks, the numbering stays the same, but "Freiband" is replaced by "Re". Can you still follow it? I guess you can, but my iTunes gave up already. When inserting "Replicas" into my cd-drive it recognizes it as "Daseinsverfehlung"! Anyway, I have to admit that by now, I have only seen the cover of "Daseinsverfehlung" (as opposed to ever hearing the actual album) and so I can tell you that the "Replicas" cover is indeed a nice take on the original. It seems that the house in the picture got abandoned after so many years and that nature around it, has overgrown its territory and changed the estate's identity. So the cover already makes up for a nice metaphor in terms of remixing, but what about the music on "Replicas"? It starts off very minimal. A subtle waving sine kicks in with added clicks and pulses, all placed in a seemingly comprehensive silence. At first "sight" there is indeed a lot of silence on this album; like entering wide-open space. Subtle details are to be discovered while traveling further throughout this album. But during most of the moments that you expect to be wandering in nothingness, there is actually a very distant and deep rumbling spread about. Sometimes you might wonder whether it is something that develops in your inner ear, just to be put on your right feet again after another development in time. Without getting too trippy or spacey, I would like to propose that this is the kind of music that alters your state of mind and being. Not the kind of album that you'll play in the background, 'cause it wants your full attention. It freezes your body and at same time makes you experience it from head to toe. In this way it has the same effect as most of Francisco Lopez' work has on me: it grabs you by the ears and sucks you right in. (Steffan de Turck) Address:

I have been a fan of the works of Mr. Liles and Mr. Menche for a while now, so this CD of their first ever collaboration is most welcome. And it looks great; packed in a hard carton slightly oversized CD sleeve with typical Liles-artwork. The 65+ minutes that form The progeny Of Flies are divided into 4 parts. Opener Eggs (signifying the first stage of the fly life cycle) features the now typical Liles-sounds augmented by Menche's higher and harsher frequencies. In one word beautiful. The second track 1st To 3rd Instar features low frequency pulses before subtle piano chords (and reverbed pedals) set in. Again full marks to Liles and Menche. "Pupar" (the third track) starts off with a horse's neigh. After that surprising intro we're in a world filled with bass tones with plucked strings and percussive elements. Closing track Metamorphoses (to end the fly theme) features a low, almost prehistoric growl and Menche's more noisy elements which builds up to a climax. The track ends with piano and the buzzing sound of a fly. This CD, subtitled "tres muscae conummunt cadaver equi aeque cito ac leo", which loosely and very cryptically translates into "three muscular complete corpses indeed quick justice and lion" is a gorgeous piece of work; beautiful, restrained and highly recommended! (Freek Kinkelaar) Address:

AIDAN BAKER - THE BOOKS OF NODS (CD by Beta-lactam Ring Records)
Aidan Baker is around with a brand-new album: The Book of Nods. The 4 tracks on this album form two continuous pieces, starting out with the Terry Riley-like opening where drummed strings lead into overtones and gradually in a single drone. Over the next three tracks (unfortunately my copy lacks all tracklisting information) this turns into a organ chord drone where the occasional dissonant note creeps in. By track three more and more percussion (hesitating at start, later more prominently) sets in. The last track has drones with reversed effects. Despite the nonsense blurb ("a new landscape is painted out of darkness by progressive strokes of the dawn") this is a very nice drone record. (Freek Kinkelaar)

TRIO SLICNATON (CD by Slicnaton)
Usually a website has some information but the website that comes along with this CD, doesn't tell me much. I gather Slicnaton is some sort of collective of musicians, who perform "a collection of original compositions and recordings focused on the instrumental and electronic music of Nicholas Slaton and his collaborators". In this collective we find names such as Slaton himself, Mietek Glinkowski, Julian Sparacino, Bob Spence, Marc Medwin, Andrew Munger and more, all of whom I never heard. On Trio Slicnaton only the first three musicians play, on violin, vitar (?), basses, electronics, clarinets and flute. The CD starts out in quite an improvised mood, with a leading part for the clarinet. At the first I thought this would not be my kind of music, but as the CD progressed things got more and more interesting. Slicnaton uses improvisation to create drone like music, with lots of attention for the smaller details in the music, the smaller electronic particles. Clarinets and violin take the leading part, but things are cleverly mixed together. This is not a static form of drone music, but sounds swirl around; around eachother, around the room. Moving in and out the mix making things organic and atmospheric. A bit of modern classical touches thrown in, make this altogether quite a pleasant CD. (FdW) Address:

First of all, Raymond Dijkstra asked me to point out that Le Souffleur is the name of the label, and not the artist. But hey, we're living in the world of information and there is so much of that around, and the more information is around, the less people are actually understanding what they read - such as the wonderful days of internet. Dijkstra also told me that he's not making the same record all the time, but that every day brings sounds and that he captures them. I don't think I said he produces the same record everyday, but that a lot of them sound similar. But his remark made me think: if someone uses say a guitar on every record, we also don't say he produces the same record, and for Dijkstra the guitar is replaced by his glass objects and electronics. Recently he produced six small records, which were released in an edition of six only and therefore not reviewed here, but which was nice to hear, if only for the twelve small changes in the sound and the limited time frame. Here, on two new records ('real' ones and not lathe cuts), Dijkstra continues to explore his own sound empire a bit further, with again subtle differences. 'De Hamer' seems to be richer in sound than 'De Larf' for instance, which is more sparse. Whereas 'De Hamer' seems to be having organ/harmonium sounds, 'De Larf' has small points of silence and the sounds are more stereo separated. In both works the glass sounds are again the leading instrument. 'De Larf' is the more minimal record and asks more from the listener than 'De Hamer', as this is a highly concentrated play on sound versus silence, or silence and sound. True Dijkstra fans, and count me in, will love this total outsider music, free of any pressure or need for a change and will love the building of this extended catalogue of sound. For those who think 'heard one, heard all', these two records may bring nothing else, but then surely you didn't pay enough attention. I think they are great. (FdW) Address:

One G. Morris is behind Lagos Disco Machine and he has an album out of Pattern Sound, a new label from Canberra, Australia. Morris plays simple tunes on a bunch of keyboards - it seems. Maybe it's a bit more complicated in the process, but at least that's how it sounds. No less than eleven tracks in the relatively short time span of thirty-one minutes. He sampled together a bunch of instruments, voices and cooks up a pretty pleasant version of electronic music, which sounds very German in a way. Think Sack, think Blumm for instance. Xylophone, humor, short pieces. Maybe it's therefore not easy to get the drift of this, but Lagos Disco Machine has in its place a great variety of poppy tunes with a great naive sense to it. Very nice crossover of pop, experiment and IDM. Done with great care. (FdW) Address:

3OFMILLIONS (CDR by Hellosquare Recordings)
(CDR by Hellosquare Recordings)
These two releases on Hellosquare Recordings are burned to a 5" CDR but both last under twenty minutes. 3ofmillions is an improvisation trouppe with Adrian Klumpes (piano, rhodes, piano book), Abel Cross (acoustic bass guitar) and Finn Ryan (drum set) - all of them members (not at the same time) of Triosk, Pure Evil Trio, Trio Apoleptic, The Nownow Splinter Orchestra. The two pieces - one quite long and one short - mark their first sessions in the studio. The fourteen minute 'Golden Calf' is a piece of great rotating drums, slow piano's (which seem to be altered through electronics) and a likewise slow bass. A piece that is not unlike Radian or any of those Viennese off shoots. 'Number 13' is more free play for the percussion and piano, which is too short to get a proper impression of. But both tracks promise a lot. Now here I wouldn't have minded hearing more.
Seaworthy we heard for the first time on 12K, and are Cameron, Sam and Greg, who have two tracks on offer on the split release with M. Rösner. Two pieces of shimmering microsound ambient drone (cross out what you don't think is appropriate). Late night music of slow evolving clusters of sound, mingled together. It's a pity that both pieces are just variations of eachother. M. Rösner released before on Hellosquare and here seems to be totally immersed with sine waves and manipulations thereof. Especially this works best in '~4' of subtle moving and gliding tones, breaking down into small rhythm pieces. Both Seaworthy and M. Rösner do what others do, not better or worse. They follow the trend rather than making a new one. That is fine too. (FdW) Address:

A flock of black birds 'that routinely roost within the building architecture in the downtown district of Kansas City at night' are at the core of this new release by Chritsoph McFall. We learned his previous through labels such as Gears Of Sand, Entr'acte, Con-V and others. The sounds of the black birds are captured here and McFall creates three pieces of music out of it through the use of the computer. He does two fine jobs and one great, and in all three he seems to be leaping away from the world of microsound. All tracks are 'there', and not muffled or hidden away in some heavy computer plug in. All of these pieces are quite loud, dark, even employ a bit of rhythm and especially 'Endurance' is a great piece. It's hard to tell why I really like this one, but it reminded me a bit of some tape experiments from the 80s world of cassettes, but recorded much, much better. This I thought was a great piece, and the two others are just pretty much alright too. Hard to recognize any birds in here, but nevertheless is a very fine example of soundscapes. (FdW) Address:

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