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Vital Weekly 641

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CHRIS WATSON - CIMA VERDE (CD by LoL Productions)
AUDIBLE GEOGRAPHY (CD compilation by Room 40)
LUC FERRARI - TUCHAN-CHANTAL (MP3 by Room40)
Some years ago I decided that I don't like holidays and that doing nothing on the beach is just of no interest to me. Should I go after all and pick a location than it would be somewhere where there are trees and mountains. Not that I like climbing that much, but I'd like to keep things out of the heat. I am not sure if Chris Watson feels the same, but for this new release (a rare CD out of the usual Touch catalogue) he was invited to climb the Cima Verde in Italy along with some other mountains to capture under varying conditions (altitude, time of the day, temperature - all of course noted in the booklet) the sounds from the environment. The start, going up the mountain in a mechanical manner, or perhaps already at the top, with chilly. almost noisy piece. From there things go down, with animals sounds, water and rain. All beautifully recorded and put together as a great audio travelogue. Why take pictures if you can record the sounds?
On a somewhat wider scope, but also dealing with the sounds of geography is the compilation 'Audible Geography'. As I seem to remember from my studies in this field (although I failed horribly), geography is not just rocks, trees and clouds, but also the interaction of human beings - so we cycled around town to place all the stores with cheese on a diagram. However it seems that the eleven people of this compilation do like to take a walk outside and record outdoor events. Except maybe in Andrea Polli's piece we hear people talking, but the interaction is quite inaudible. Unlike Watson, who is not present on this compilation, many of the artists on this compilation present pieces of music that is at least a form of layering various sonic events on top of each other, or, at its most, to extensive transformation of the material at hand - well, or so it seems. The ear and the microphone are the most important plug ins to transform sound. In their various approaches, this is quite a nice compilation, with some really low sound events (Toshiya Tsunoda) sand some that are almost like noise, as is the case with Francisco Lopez. The approaches to what has been recorded could have been a bit more different, I think. More human interaction in the geography would have been welcome. Also included are Eric LaCasa, Stephen Vitiello, Lee Patterson, Asher, Jeph Jerman, Philip Samartzis, Marc Behrens, James Webb.
Which brings us to the work of Luc Ferrari, who had his own special brand of field recordings, which incorporated many voices, and making more social documents. In 1977 he and his wife travelled to a place in France called Tuchan and stayed for there for some time. This village was quite left-wing minded. Ferrari spoke extensively with a women named Chantal, and that's what 'Tuchan-Chantal' is all about. Bits of guitar music are used, but the majority of the piece is her speaking about her life, troubles and desires. Sadly, despite my name, my French is not that good to understand the entire interview, which makes this more suitable for Francophones. It's nice in itself, almost like listening to radio when you are on holiday in a country, of which you don't speak the language. (FdW)
Address: http://www.lolproductions.org
Address: http://www.room40.org

 

QUA - SILVER RED (CD by Someone Good)
Someone Good may be Room40's 'pop side label', but of course its a far cry from the real pop world - and that's why I think it's great. Qua, being one Cornel Wilzcek, may be remotely away from the world of MTV and from Room40, his music is actually quite nice. If I understood correctly, the material was played in 2005 in a concert on piano and guitar. It was loaded on a multi-touch, programmable screen computer called the Lemur, and then transformed. In 2007 one Laurence Pike plays drums over the finished tracks in one take. Someone Good compares this to both Steve Reich and his pals as well as Moondog; at least the first three pieces. The fourth one is an one second from the previous, extracted to a new piece, sounding like Morricone or Scott Walker - big names are not avoided here. Like I said, most certainly not pop music, but the music is vibrant, rocky, electronic, filmic, classic, post rock and highly compelling. Think a highly nervous but melodic Oval with drums, the Silver Apples on lots of speed and no vocals. Only twenty-seven minutes in length, which seem to fly by in a few seconds. Once over I played it again right away. The three pieces called 'Silver Red' were my favorite, 'One Second' seemed in the re-run a bit too normal. I read that Qua is doing a pop record - let me sign up right away if it's anywhere as good as this.
Address: http://www.someonegood.org

 

BRIGITTE POULIN - ÉDIFICES NATURELS (CD by Ambiances Magnetiques)
Poulin is a classically trained pianist. Her repertoire covers all relevant periods, but she feels strongly attracted to modern classical music. Because of this she founded Trio Phoenix (flutes, cello and piano), an ensemble entirely dedicated to new music. Besides she worked with a great diversity of musicians and ensembles. "For a decade, Brigitte Poulin has been commissioning and premiering works by composers who, she thought, could help better define our own piano culture." From this experience she choose four recent works that found their way to this CD: James Harley's 'Édifices Naturels' (2000), Ana Sokolovic's 'Danses et Interludes' (2003), Denys Bouliane's 'Contredanse du silène Badouny' (1998) and Paul Frehner's 'Finnegans Quarks Revival' (2005-07). At the same she introduces four composers that were unknown to me.... The composition by Harly consists of two parts. The first one bursts of energy. The second one is quiet and calm. The composition of Ana Sokolovic is inspired on Balkan dance music. It consists of six dances and three interludes. As you can imagine rhythm is a dominant aspect here. The short work by Bouliane is a very ingenious and subtle composition. 'Finnegans Quarks Revival' by Frehner is the longest work of the four. In eight parts this work evokes very different moods during its 35 minutes. Poulins choice offers a good insight into the richness of modern composed piano-music, and in Poulin we meet an accomplished and warm-hearted musician. (Dolf Mulder) Address: http://www.actuellecd.com

 

BRIAN GRODER - TORQUE (CD by Latham)
Unknown musician, unknown record label. But listening to this cd it is clear this cannot be just somebody. We hear a very accomplished player on trumpet and flugelhorn and a fantastic quartet. Groder made a living mainly by playing in all kinds of big bands, supporting singers such as Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr and Joe Cocker. But listening to his cd it is evident that it is free jazz where his heart beats. He has already three CDs out with his own Brain Groder Ensemble. With 'Torque' he sets a new step. Groder is accompanied by Sam Rivers (flute, saxophones), Doug Mathews (double-bass) and Anthony Cole (drums). Both Mathews and Cole play with veteran Sam Rivers since the early 90s as the Sam Rivers Trio. This must be one of the reasons why the playing is very together and communicative. But Groder is a full member of the club. And more then that, he stays in command and does it very well in their company. The cd opens and closes with a duet of trumpet and drums written by Groder who wrote or co-wrote all the pieces. In between we find tracks in different line ups, most of them as a quartet. Their music is deeply rooted in the developments that jazzmusic underwent since the 60s Groder and his mates. But they didn't include any standard. Instead 'Torque' offers a set of new and strong compositions. Sometimes they remind me of Miles Davis, at other times they are more close to pure free jazz. The playing is very satisfying. Flexible and tight at the same time. The music sounds very organic and vital. Inspired and dedicated they create some inventive and convincing music, proving that it is still possible to create original up-to-date jazz using the vocabulary of the past (Dold Mulder) Address: http://www.briangrooder.com/

 

GANESH ANANDAN & JOHN GZOWSKI - SHRUTI PROJECT (CD by Ambiances Magnetiques)
A fascinating work that leads us into the world of microtonality. "Shruti is a Sanskrit word to denote pitch and interval. A word that also means 'that which is heard, and the smallest intervals of pitch or the spaces between notes'. Ganesh Anandan was born in Bangalore City (south India). He studied Karnatic music before moving to Canada in 1976. Sound designer, composer, musician and instrument maker John Gzowski also studied karnatic music, played oud and guitar in jazz and folk festivals. With his own ensemble he toured Canada with a repertoire of Harry Partch compositions. Gzowksi makes his first appearance in the catalogue of Ambiances Magnétiques, but he has many albums out. With very different musical and cultural backgrounds Anandan and Gzowksi share their interest for microtonality. They met in 1996 when Gzowski invited Anandan for his micro-tonal Critical Band at The Music Gallery in Toronto, Canada. Gzowski works with a set of self designed micro-tonal guitars and stringed instruments. Anandan works with self built melodic percussion and string instruments based on the Indian Shruti system. To be more precise, on this new cd we hear Anandan playing a self-built electric 12-string shruti stick, plus metallophones, knajira, moorching, tincan and voice. Gzowksi uses the Harry Partch guitar, 19_tone guitar, electric Dowel, ukelin and bells. For their 'Shruti Project' they improvise and mix Indian, Indonesian and western musical styles very fluently and intelligently. Each piece opens a new world. Because they play on unknown and self-built instruments we hear new sounds, news colors. Also the music impresses as we hear very unusual tunings, strange textures and rhythms. It is difficult not to become fascinated by these enchanting interventions. Nonetheless not all improvisations worked for me, and left me with something missing. But all in all this is s very interesting meeting of east and west under the parameters of microtonality. (Dolf Mulder) Address: http://www.actuellecd.com/

 

RUMPISTOL - DYNAMO (CD by Rump Recordings)
The first Rumpistol was mentioned in Vital Weekly was all the way back in Vital Weekly 450, when we reviewed a compilation CD on Rump Recordings. We noted that they already did a CD by Rumpistol, but didn't review it. 'Dynamo' is his third CD by now and our first meeting with this musician from Denmark. I played 'Dynamo' with pleasure but found myself at odds what to really think of it. Rumpistol play 'sample heavy music': lots of cheesy strings and percussion, jazzy breaks, rocky tunes and technoid beats. Excellently recorded, played with great care. I'll have to admit I was reading a book at the same time, but found my foot (left one) tapping along with the beats. I was clearly enjoying myself. But when I played it again, without reading, paying attention, I was thinking about the busyness of the music. Totally filled with small sounds, great bass end, weird ideas being thrown in and still enjoying myself. This music is damn good. But where do I place this: not being a dance floor guy, I am not sure if people would actually dance to this, but I could sense driving a car - if I ever would have a licence, God forbid - in the sun, in the wide open fields, and I would take 'Dynamo' along: it seems like a good companion when driving a car. UnVital music too, I guess, since I seem to be lacking points of reference, but hey I surely like it, which I can't always say from the unVitals. (FdW) Address: http://www.rump-recordings.dk

 

LEE HANGIUN & HONG CHULKI - EXPANDED CELLULOID, EXTENDED PHONOGRAPH (DVD by Balloon & Needle)
Before I must have reported about the fact that cinema and art film are not my cup of tea to review. Not because I don't like it, but because I don't know much about it. I do watch films (see my review of 'Here's To Love' from a few weeks back), and when it comes to experiments with media such as film I do very much like Stan Brakhage's work. But its hard to place that in any sort of category or write some intelligent words, offering insight. But since I like this one, I'll give it a try. Hong Chulki we met before. This Korean musician plays with feedback, turntables, laptop and minidisc. Here he works with film maker Lee Hangjun, also from South-Korea. He treats his film with chemicals and always has at least two screens to project on. Despite Chulki's laptop, this seems to me foremost a work of analogue media. You can't sprinkle chemicals over windows media player and see what the outcome is. But you can do over physical film. I am not sure if Hangiun uses films he made himself, or that he is using old film. The mixture of hectic noise based sounds, the feedback mixes with surface of the record player (that most likely has no records spinning) along with the rapid flickering of two images at the same time, create an almost hallucinating affair. It's that Brakhage already made a film called 'Loud Visual Noise', otherwise it would very appropriate to this. Noise as such is something which I don't like very much at the moment, but when its presented like this, not noise made visual, but a combination of noise as music, and noise as image, combined together its something that I certainly am willing to see and hear, or hear and see. (FdW)
Address: http://www.balloonnneedle.com

 

STRAY GHOST - LOSTHILDE (CDR by Highpoint Lowlife)
Perhaps I should no longer make references to Highpoint Lowlife when it comes to describing music that deals with rhythm, as this new one by Stray Ghost has no rhythm at all. I have no idea who Stray Ghost is - well, its Anthony Saggers, but whohe? - but it seems to me that he plays the guitar and lots and lots of effects. Ambient music like there is so much of it. Think Fear Falls Burning when he keeps his music quiet throughout, or many of those who feed their guitar through a bunch of computerized plug-ins, although somehow I don't think Stray Ghost does this, but rather keeps for the option of playing guitar through some loop pedal and then through some more delay and reverb. Long, sustaining chords are being strummed around here. While not exactly the most original sound in the world, it's on the other hand quite a nice release. The opening of 'There's An Ocean Between Us, You And I - Part Two' has some noise, and even a voice, before gliding into ambience, which makes things a bit more varied. The two parts of 'Saudade' are heavy slabs, and even in the first part a pounding heavy drum machine - rhythm hasn't entirely disappeared from Highpoint Lowlife, it just has a very different shape. Very nice release. (FdW)
Address: http://highpointlowlife.com

 

3,14... - A (DELTA) (CDR by Fallt)
Things have been quiet for Fallt, who gathered much fame when they released a 24 CD set in the nineties, which at the time was the encyclopedia of the clicks and cuts movement. Perhaps forced by the changed market they now work more with online music and visual art (always a strong point for this label) and here they release a CDR by 3.14.... In the eighties someone used this name too, and I never knew what it stands for, but then I am not math loving guy. Maths play certainly a role on this CDR release, by what is a Japanese outfit called 3,14.... It was already released in 1998 on a Scandinavian label called 1,024 in an edition of 64 and now with the permission of the previous label owner Niels Bohr it is re-issued on Fallt. Somehow, somewhere says me were taken for a ride here. Niels Bohr? 1,024? I thought I knew a lot of labels, but I never heard of 1,024 - which might happen of course. "The tracks, often composed using generative and computational algorithms, are underpinned by mathematical principles including: pi, infinity, dynamic systems and chaos theory" - why was I only interested in history in school? The human touch, I guess, comes here from piano sounds recorded by EJA which are used in two tracks. Its that we know this is a decade old music, because it puts it in a bit of different perspective. After so many years of clicks, cuts, glitch, and microsound this is hardly an innovative work, but the small digital melodies on offer here are gentle as well as fresh like composed only recently. Inspired, no doubt, back then by Oval and the Ritornell catalogue, this should have its way, back then, to that label and not a handful CDRs, but it's good to see it back in print, and at that, so nicely printed. More of this, with various remixes on the Fallt website. (FdW) Address: http://www.fallt.com

 

TL0741 - BACK TO MINUS (CDR by HC3 Music)
One half of Northern Machine is TL0741 (an awful revolves about numbers this week), which is one Pat Gillis. About a year ago I saw him play live last year on a some modular synth along with some sound effects and this release is the result of what has been played back then, and which stages it has gone through. Improvised but TL0741 knows what he's doing on that machine. I must admit I don't recall much of that long evening in hot Washington, but the music here in post-summer Nijmegen sounds quite nice. TL0741 describes his music as 'raw in character', but that's something that doesn't really show, I think. Slow developing sounds, at times a bit noisy, but certainly on the same account ambient, such as in the short 'Morphantasia', this is partly drone music that moves from the quiet to the soft and it's pleasant to hear. Sine waves and sabre tooths work along eachother and it seems that every sounds evolves naturally from the previous. Full tension, variety, shapes and colors. Good, sturdy experimental/improvised music. (FdW) Address: http://www.hc3music.com

 

ANDREAS BRANDAL - INSECTS (CDR by Twilight Luggage)
The CDR is of course the obvious format for an arty release. You can make a few copies and put in the real art. This one, in its physical form on CDR, has seven tracks, and comes with a framed drawing by Andreas Brandal. It comes in an edition of 21 copies only. On the Twilight Luggage website there is a free MP3 with six tracks of the total of seven, in case you want to check it out before deciding to put art on your wall. Brandal is someone with an extensive discography at hand and with a wide musical territory to cover. On 'Insects' this is once again shown. Ranging from noisy, insect like sounds to guitar improvisations, orchestral loops, drones and even poptunes. Like the work I heard from him before, a pretty varied bunch of music. The nice thing is that this variety doesn't stand the album as a whole in the way. Despite going from various moods and textures, the album sounds coherent. The insect angle gets a bit lost of me, but maybe far fetched, one could say that the density of the sounds are a bit like the world of insects: crawling over eachother in a hectic way. However this music is not always creepy (that is if you are afraid of insects). It contains elements of humor in it, such as in the non-MP3 track 'The Two Injuries', which bounces all over the musical place. A nicely varied bunch of music that will surely appeal to the more adventurous listener. (FdW) Address: http://www.twilightluggage.com

 

The complete Vital Weekly is available at: Vital Weekly

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