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Vital Weekly 639

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PRURIENT - ARROWHEAD (CD by Editions Mego)
Three tracks with mostly very high pitched feedback, screaming and on tracks one/three drumming recorded back in 2004. Despite the accompanying blurb's "ear splitting" the vocals are restrained in terms of volume, the drumming more incidental than loud - it could be that somewhere the message and meaning of noise has been misunderstood, or re-interpreted, i.e. that there is no message, I suppose means it can mean everything and anything but not to the exclusion of anything else. Noise does not communicate by definition, noise prevents communication. "I don't have any special message in my noise, but being loud." Mikawa-san. So what the *angst* does here and anywhere else is position the piece as some critical dialogue with - "whatever". Just as the intensity of the bongos (track 3) or the anger is much U.S. noise misses the point and places itself back into communication and so music, not noise. The vocals should be cold, as cold and unfeeling as the electric feedback- unemotional, its not the Munch Scream but the cold emptiness of Zen, the nothing that is obviously available to the Japanese masters that many in the west fail to recognize or achieve. (jliat) Address: http://www.editionsmego.com

JASON ZEH - HERACLITUS (CD by C.I.P.)
In the very first few minutes of Jason Zeh's debut CD (following several CDR releases including one on Gameboy Records) we hear a 'tabletop cassette recorder over a candle flame while recording'. This is the very basic thing that is used to create the rest of the composition - all melted into one piece, from start to finish. The processing stages this went through all deals with cassettes, in which literally everything from the cassette, the shells, guide rollers and pressure pads is used to alter the sound. All of these stages were recorded and from all these recordings the final composition was created. A dense work, which at times had some similarities to the work of Howard Stezler (especially his most recent work 'Bond Inlets') or Brutum Fullmen, of corroded sounds, rotten sounds and decay in general. Divided into several parts, with quite some dynamics (although things never get really loud), this is simply one of the most engaging things I heard recently. While on one hand connected to the world of microsound, mainly through the final composition, the techniques are more or less ancient, yet even by any old standard, this all sounds mysterious and not muffled, or hidden in a bath of hiss, like many of his ancestors did sound on tape. It owes in the technique department more to the old masters of musique concrete, yet with an entirely different outcome. As Heraclitus said you can never step into the same river twice (panta rhei), you can loop a tape, but it never sounds the same. Highlight, for me, of this week. (FdW)
Address: http://www.cipsite.net

CAVESTAR - WETLANDS (CD by Psychosomatic Records)
Not a week seems to go by when I write words like 'new artist', 'new label' and this week its time for Cavestar, nom de plume for one Kevin Crosslin from Chicago, who releases on Psychosomatic Records. That's about what I know of him. The label calls it 'new directions in atmospherics', which I don't think is entirely true, but maybe it's better to call this the 'many directions in atmospherics'. Cavestar produced eight tracks with a considerable amount of differences. The opening is quite noise related, but in the second already all the cliche of ambient music are opened up, and in 'Gritch' things are more abstract. One could say Cavestar can't make up his mind, or perhaps wants to display his many ideas. I think it's the latter. Working with samples, electronics, field recordings and perhaps some guitar sounds. Though I don't think all of his ideas are convincing - the aforementioned 'Gritch' is not a strong piece of sampled electronics - throughout its quite a decent, however not surprising record and certainly nothing new. It lacks a bit of direction, which makes it hard to 'market' this album. Anyone who is into more melodic ambient could be interested (say along the lines of the old Multimood label), but hard to pin down in one scene or the other. (FdW) Address: http://www.psyrecords.com

INVERZ - SONGS (CD by Granny Records)
Savvas Metaxas (which sounds like a good drink) is the guitarist from 218 and a member of Good Luck Mr Gorsky but also active solo under the guise of Inverz. For his album 'Songs' he plays guitar (electric and acoustic), vintage synthesizers and field recordings. That may seem like old hat, and obviously the end result doesn't offer much new under the micro sun, but I thought the result were pretty neat. Tinkling guitars in the middle of sea of swirling electronic sounds, field recordings being processed to quite an extent where they become unrecognizable. Maybe its all done and said before, and occasionally also better than this, this is still a fine copy of say Fennesz meets Machinefabriek. Core piece is 'Bow Song', which features only the contrabass by Iraklis Iosifidis, in various, layered samples, building a nice drone piece. On a hot day like this, I'd like to sit back and enjoy whatever is coming to me in a nice way, and this is just the one for such a day; when more thinking is not necessary. (FdW)
Address: http://www.grannyrecords.blogspot.com

DIASPORA: COTTAGE INDUSTRIES 5 (2CD by Neo Ouija)
Its a common thing to compare music with other music, to define styles. Handy for the reviewer, handy for the listener. So, I sometimes refer to labels like Highpoint Lowlife or Expanding Records, when wanting to define a certain musical genre that sometimes is called IDM. I know, omission here, I could have (or rather should have) mentioned Neo Ouija as part of that string of labels, but I didn't. Much of what the label releases is out of my sight. The label started in 2000 by Lee Norris (of whom we know musical activities as Metamatics, Nacht Plank and Norken), who stopped it in 2005. Now, three years onwards, the label makes a fresh start in the hands of his friend Martin Hirsch and what better to start then with a compilation with the current pack of intelligent dance producers working from their cottages around the world? Thirty tracks by almost as many artists and we see familiar names as Pridon, Move D, Fluxion, Build Buildings, Benjamin Brunn, Maps And Diagrams, Andrey Kiritchenko and Nacht Plank plus a whole bunch of new names. Two CDs, which is easily more than two hours of music, is of course a real feast, even, and here comes a bit of critique, when a lot of the music sounds quite similar. It needs expert knowledge to know the precise differences, a bit like with last week's 'A Cleansing Ascension', which had small but essential differences. I rather take the bird view, and play it while working, not caring too much about those subtle differences, more techno, more slow, more fast, but enjoy this as an almost endless stream of nice music to play. Also included are Plexus Instruments, Kangding Ray, Sense, Relapxych.0, A Made Up Sound, Dimitar Dodovski, Deer, MXM, Tilman Ehrhorn, Remote, NQ and more. (FdW)
Address: http://www.neooujia.com

STRINGS OF CONSCIOUSNESS - FANTOMASTIQUE ACOUSTICA (CD by Stilll)
Vital Weekly likes to receive music through the mail man, so we can play it on a CD player or a turntable and the endless amounts of e-mails with recommendations or 'band' news are thrown away with caring too much (but of course we glance at them). I know there is some involvement of Philippe Petit, label boss of Bip Hop, in a 14 member big band Strings Of Consciousness, which combines instruments like strings and winds with digital techniques. Only composers are mentioned, Herve Vincento, Perceval Bellonw and Petit and no other band members are named on the cover and the press blurb, so lets say its a real collective. They have four tracks on this CD, spanning about a mini CD, plus nine remixes and two video's. Their own music is a fine, cinematographic combination of post rock tunes, with swirling guitars, heavy drums and screaming saxophones, such as in 'Crest & Watersheds'. Its the more jazzy inspired side of Godspeed and less dark, way less dark. In the remixes various elements of the music is brought alive. Sometimes just the bass end (Rothko), the orchestral elements (MIra Calix, Kammerflimmer Kollektief) or an electronic alteration of the original (Leafcutter John, Gamial Trio, Sutekh (who does something different than the rest)). Lots of saxophone play a leading role, in the remixes by Scanner, and Marsen Jules. A pretty decent bunch of remixes and four great originals. I may prefer more of the latter next time. (FdW)
Address: http://www.stilll.org

HAIR POLICE - CERTAINTY OF SWARMS (CD by No Fun Productions)
MENSTRUATION SISTERS - MA (LP by No Fun Productions)
GREG KELLEY - RELIGIOUS ELECTRONICS (LP by No Fun Productions)
Four new releases on one of my favorite labels, which seems to spread its wings more and more with each release. Three of these will be released here, the fourth one, a new CD by Dan Burke and Thomas Dimuzio was snatched up by the big boss of Vital because he's such an Illusion of Safety fan, so for that review please check the last issue. The other CD in the batch comes from the name most close to the No Fun program normally, the Hair Police. It's a group that's always been hard to pin down, similar to Wolf Eyes in the sense that every record shows another side of their chameleon approach to a noise understanding. "Certainty of Swarms" is no different in that it starts out almost traditionally, here they actually sound like a band playing. A very hardcore fucked up one, but still, a band. Quite a difference from their last album, "The Empty Quarter", which I found to be very enjoyable, and was certainly a group effort as well, but it was a lot more out-there. Vocals are more present here as well, giving the idea that these tracks could be almost songs if in the right frame of mind. They could almost be lifted from some obscure abstract black metal band. The drums also place this record in more of an garage rock tradition, but one gone terribly wrong. Being no metal/rock fan this side of the band is on the face of it less interesting to me, but the way to take these elements, obliterate them and turn them into something new, is certainly a very exciting one to observe.
On to the two LPs in this batch. The first one is by the Menstruation Sisters, and it's a reissue of their first album only originally available in Australia, the country where they're from. I own another one of their LPs, which I haven't played a lot, and I thought that was the only one they ever made, but apparently I'm wrong. At the time I bought the other LP because I heard Oren Ambarchi is a member, but the record completely alienated me. Ambarchi is a member though, and Discogs tells me there's also two girls involved (the sisters that were inspiration for the group name?) and some other guy. There's nothing here that reminds of Ambarchi's fragile guitar playing as we know from his Touch albums, which looking back on it I should've known as there are few people who can adjust to different musical environments so easily as he can. This record is nice to hear after the Hair Police one as it also has some pretty fucked up band-on-flight imaginations on offer, especially concerning the vocals, which here are sometimes male, sometimes female, a sort of Junko baby daughter choking on her own spit. It's a fun record that's not very easy to listen to, but interesting for its (im)possibilities to see what people can get out of a normal group set up (hellish screaming, all-over-the-place drums, some distorted bass/guitar and a heap of other unidentifiable sound). I actually listened to the A-side at 45 rpm by accident the first time, and it didn't sound any different. Guess that makes it a twice as good record.
Greg Kelley is a man between the cracks, a trumpet-player more known from contemporary improv circles, but with an obvious penchant for all-the-way noise. "This is not a jazz record" it says on the No Fun website, and hell no it ain't. What it is, is a contemporary noise record that has learned from listening to some older Mego records but definitely does it's own thing (with a bit of fantasy it sometimes sounds like an almost organic Hecker record). I'm not even sure if this is a trumpet anymore, it never sounds like an actual one, but processing can do a lot, so maybe the source material still comes from there, and it does sound like quite a bit of processing was done here. Thinking of it as being trumpet makes the record sound different then just taking it for what it is, which can be quite interesting to think of. Quite a nice album, and altogether another great group of records from this amazing label. (Robert Meijer)
Address: http://www.nofunfest.com

SCOTT FOUST - HERE'S TO LOVE (DVD by Swill Radio)
SCOTT FOUST - STRANDED (10 Postcards by Entr'acte)
Whenever I decide I like a film, I can watch it over and over again. 'Turks Fruit' ('Turkish Delight' is the USA video title) is one I saw many times, and remains the best Dutch film ever, as well as others by Paul Verhoeven. No doubt I saw '24 Hour Party People' more than a few times, and believe it or not, I already saw 'Here's To Love' by Scott Foust already quite a few times, even before its official release now. The narrative is easy and told in the first few minutes, which I won't spoil here. Once the 'story' is told, literally in French and subtitled, we get to see it. It's a long stretch, so now, with the story printed on the cover, it's easier to follow the lengthy sequences that follow. Shot in color, sometimes with grainy textures, this is above all a music film - a film about sound. The music used is from various musical bands which involve Foust, such as Idea Fire Company, The Pickle Factory, Tart, XX Committee and Y-Front, that accompany the slow moving scenes. Don't watch this when in a 'hurry', but sit down, with a good glass of any alcoholic (bottle within reach) and simply enjoy the scenes and the music. Poetic slow musical. Essential keywords. Don't wait this to be shown near you, while it can be shown at your home.
If that isn't enough Foustian wit for you, there is also a set of ten postcards available from Entr'acte, perhaps as to accompany Idea Fire Company's recent 7" on the same label which was called 'Postcard' with some thought provoking texts: "If it were up to me, no one would be allowed into a church or any other house of lies until they were allowed into a bar. Let's say sixteen. No one would fall for any of it then' is one quote from the card that is titled 'The Age Of Reason'. Not quite 'Oblique Strategies' but Foust, at least for me, is like Brian Eno, a Homo Universalis. Can't wait for a novel. (FdW)
Address: http://www.ant-naturals.org
Address: http://www.entracte.co.uk

MARTIN BLADH & BO I CAVEFORS THREE STUDIES FOR A CRUCIFIXION (DVD & CD by FireWork Edition Records)
This DVD is of a three act "Passion Play" dedicated to Francis Bacon, this is nothing to do with noise either, but certainly could in no way be described as trivial. The protagonists here in front of a projection of the paintings set out to embody the nihilistic vision of the painter. You might feel disgusted or sick at the blood, intestines and homosexual acts- and perhaps want to return to the playfulness of Fckn'bstrds antics. This is the real deep black horror of existence - shocking in that is can be or should be performed by human beings at all, not that it is in its deliberation - to shock or disgust- that would be too easy, it would become a sex show, and it is not. Like the paintings of Bacon it unfolds along a horrific and deterministic trajectory that somehow cannot be avoided, if it did appear to be deliberately shocking then it would be possible to step outside the drama and see it as amusement or entertainment. Or is it excusable as a sudden outburst of promethian energy - which is understandably human - from tribal dancing through to the silliness in noise festivals. The real horror here is the premeditated logic of the performance devoid of any emotional excuse. This performance as also Bacons' paintings in their inhumanity could and should be ignored as impossible imaginations if not for the reality of the logic of the slaughter house from which they derive and the even more terrible realizations of these artists finding in this beauty. (jliat)
Address: http://www.fireworkeditionrecords.com

BRYAN LEWIS SAUNDERS - N1-N4 VARIATIONS (CDR by Stand-Up Tragedy Records)
One of stranger items I had to review, although I forgot which issue, was the 'Experiments With Dreams' by Thomas Liljenberg and Leif Elggren, a book about dreams and CD with the sound of two people sleeping. Hardly a surprise that the same Elggren suggested one Bryan Lewis Saunders to release his 'N1-N4 Variations' - 'a vocal documentation from all 4 sleep stages'. Fifteen pieces in total of this. It started out with recordings his dreams when he was awake, but he decided to create while dreaming and talking in his sleep. Certainly as strange as the Elggren/Liljenberg release, but not snoring sounds but unconscious talking. Not always easy to follow what he is saying, but surely 'strange' enough. Maybe its a bit long at fifteen 'tracks' that all sound quite similar but its surely something to use when having guests at the dinner table - even when this is released in an edition of 20 copies only. (FdW)
Address: http://www.bryanlewissaunders.org

The complete Vital Weekly is available at: Vital Weekly

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