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Vital Weekly 642

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For reasons I no longer remember I was on the Fat Cat site just a few days ago, and I was thinking that they release so many new artists which I never heard of. I am not sure if I noted the Hauschka, which is one of the names used by Volker Bertelmann. Besides this is a member of Music A.M. (with Stefan Schneider and Luke Sutherland) and one half of Tonetraeger. So as these things happen sometimes I received a promo Hauschka's latest CD, on Fat Cat's imprint 130701, whatever that may be about - but my best guess an imprint for (semi-) classical music. As Hauschka, Bertelmann plays the prepared piano, and the pieces here were recorded in an improvised way, along with various cello and violin players as well as trombone. Today this was the first thing I played after a long night and the headache washed away with the music of Hauschka. The piano doesn't sound always like a prepared one, sometimes it's just a piano and the strings sound lovely. When it sounds like a prepared piano it almost sounds like electronically treated, in a soft, not outspoken manner. I feel I'm not at all the man for the task of reviewing this (semi-) classical music. I simply know nothing about it. Its soft, its at times minimal. Maybe its like Satie, maybe Debussy, a bit romantic, a bit Wim Mertens like. Gosh what do I know? I have no idea where to place this. Do I like it? Certainly I do. Very much even. But can I say this is truly original, or a great copy of something else? No, I can't. Perhaps that's not necessary. I just like it. (FdW) Address:


A true story: a friend of mine picked up a Tzadik by M. Feldman, thinking it was Morton, but it was Marc. How blessed can you be a name that refers to another great composer? And how odd it is that the same label does it again? Will there a review with no reference to that 'other' Ligeti? Lukas Ligeti is a percussion player who plays the Marimba Lumina, a new instrument invented by Don Bucla along with samples of mainly African percussion instruments and in one track additional electronics. The work is very much an improvised thing, which works rather well. Ligeti uses an extensive array of influences and many different sounds. The influences are foremost of course 'African' in nature, but at the same time it sounds very electronic, yet without losing its improvisational edge. The merging of traditional music with electronics, previously shown by various people from the Ukrain, is something that is certainly a new road to explore. While I am not an expert of traditional music - worldwide! - I can certainly sense its potential and what Ligeti does here is great. Polyrhythms, acoustic instruments, electronic processing - everything seems to be right in place to make a very vibrant piece of music - and Ligeti offers seven fine pieces of music with lots of small, detailed variations in what he has to offer. Here's someone at work who knows what he is doing and knows how to produce a fine piece of music and hold the attention throughout. Great stuff. (FdW) Address:


LUCIO CAPECE & SERGIO MERCE - CASA (CD by Organized Music From Thessaloniki)
I am not sure if I ever heard of Sergio Merce, who teams up with Lucio Capece. Capece plays scruti box and filter on the first track and bass clarinet on the second. Merce plays 'four tracks portastudio without tape on the first and tenor saxophone on the second. I must admit I thought it was quite fascinating to think of an empty recording device as an instrument. What does it then? Perhaps the built in mixing board is used? According to the supplied information, there is also talk of using small metal objects against the tape heads. The two work together since 1993 when they were both living in Argentina. Earlier this year, Capece, currently in Berlin I think, went back to his own country, stayed at his parents house and recorded this work, at the time of which Merce's house was renovated - old and new houses - hence the title 'Casa'. 'Virar, Virar' is the opening piece here, and lasts almost thirty minutes. Its a most beautiful piece of drone music. The sruti box provides a continuos background in which utterly small sounds play small but important roles. There are subtle changes in the music that one wouldn't hardly notice if you wouldn't listen very carefully. Yet I thought this piece could be listened to in various ways: as a relaxing background piece, unconsciousness of the minor changes, or highly concentrated. The second piece, 'Vieja Casa Nueva' is quite different: here the two play instruments in slow motion. They play slow curves with silence in between them. An even more softer piece than the first one but perhaps also more intense. Two great pieces of music and a highly refined release. (FdW) Address:


Sagittarius is another interesting story of brains from the extreme metal scene searching for new musical territories. German composer Cornelius Waldner was the man behind symphonic black metal project Hailstorm in the mid-nineties that in its symphonic approach to furious expressions had similarities with Emperor and Limbonic Art. As Hailstorm has been put on stand-by Cornelius Waldner concentrates on his solo-project under the name Sagittarius. The result can be heard on this first proper CD-release of Sagittarius titled "Songs from the Ivory tower" released on British label Cold Spring Records. The style of Sagittarius can be described as crossover between grandiose expressions of neo-classical and the authenticity of neo-folk. Being a multi-instrumentalist Cornelius Waldner on "Songs from the ivory tower" plays several instruments. Dominating instrument is piano meanwhile string instruments as well as acoustic guitars beautifully accompanies the music in a subtle manner. The melancholic pace of the music is strengthened by the vocals of Cornelius Waldner with lyrics sung in German and English. Through out the 15 musical pieces Sagittarius has guest appearances of label mates Troy Southgate (from H.E.R.R.) and Damiano Mercuri (from Rose Rovine E Amanti), two well-chosen contributors since the expressions of Sagittarius has many similarities with the two aforementioned project, though the Sagittarius sticks to the introspective and chamber music-like expressions in contrary to the often more pompous style of H.E.R.R. Another excellent release from the Cold Spring label once again proving that artists from the extreme metal has more to offer than expressions of pure wrath. (Niels Mark) Address:


As I was searching for some information about the composer behind present album, Alex Tiuniav, I crashed into his list of favorite music on the U.S. department of Amazon. Looking at this favorite music list, the first thing that crosses my mind is the span of musical interests. Unquestionably the wide range of musical preferences strengthens the compositional skills. As you listen to Alex Tiuniaev's debut album titled "I knew her" it doesn't come as a surprise that there is quite a few albums of ethereal expressions on his list of favorites, with albums from the ambient world (Brian Eno etc.), classical music (Arvo Pärt etc.) and post-rock (Sigur Ros etc.). The Russian-born composer apparently uses his great repertoire of preferences as he composes, since the music on "I knew her" lies in the territories between classical music and lush ambient. The album contains one lengthy track running approx. 40 minute, a quite minimalist work with elements of choir and classical orchestration weaving into haunting soundscapes that in its repetitive nature develops a nice trance-inducing state of listening. In its grandiosity "I knew her" recalls the legendary masterwork of soothing atmospheres, "Angelic music" (1985) from the Greek composer Ambient/New Age-composer Iasos. And similar to Iasos' work, Alex Tiuaniev's "I knew her" is a hypnotic piece of music that creates the ultimate background for sonic immersion. (Niels Mark)


SMILING THROUGH MY TEETH (CD compilation by Sonic Arts Network)
SUDAMERICA ELECTRONICA (CD compilation by Sudamerica Electronica)
Although the music by People Like Us hardly finds its way into these pages, Vicki Bennett's work is a strong force in the world of plunderphonics. There was a time I heard a lot of it, and one thing that struck me a lot was the sense of humor she put into her audio collages. But as with a good joke, it's only funny for a few times, and not always, so to play her music and always laugh out loud I thought wasn't always possible. Humor in music that is always funny is of course a personal thing, but for me the Sparks always do it. They are so funny, that every time I play their music, I always have to laugh. They are not part of the latest issue by Sonic Arts Network, compiled by Vicki Bennett and dealing with the subject of humor in music. Starting up with the great Spike Jones, we are presented a thirty-two track compilation of funny music. Lots of usual suspects, both from the perspective of Bennett and her plunderphonics like John oswald, Ergo Phizmus, Xper.xr (strangely no Negativland), going to Nurse With Wound to less usual suspects as Ground Zero, Runzelstirn & Gurgelstock an Nihilist Spam Band. Plus lots of names I never heard of. A strange but funny mix of covers, spoken word, collages, burping, plunderphonics and such like. The mash-up seems to be having only a small portion here, which is a pity, since they are usually funny but can also stand as a piece of music by itself. Not every joke is great humor here, but that's like real life. Sometimes telling the joke is better than the punch-line, and sometimes one doesn't recognize the joke at all. But throughout this is a very nice, joyous release, which managed to put a smile on my face. But then I like humor. In life and thus in music.
Unlike humor which I like, I am not particularly fond of tea. Always a coffee drinker (during the day, water by night), so perhaps I'm not the right person to review a compilation about the art and culture of tea. But I'll try. I drank a coffee, like I always do, after dinner (afternoon), like I always do, and listened to this compilation. Its by Static Caravan, and that happens to be a supplier of good alternative pop music with a healthy dose of experiment in it. I recognize names as Pimmon, Tuung, Qua, Dollboy, Xela, Serafina Steer, inch-time and there are new names as The Break-ups, Max de Wardener, AM/PM, Root70, Lord Jim, Oblong and Cibelle with Josh Weller. Electronics, ambient, acoustic guitars, sweet tunes, jazzy tunes, the processed sound of the tea kettle. A thoroughly relaxing tour of sweet music. Even without tea this is a delightful compilation, coherent in its diversity.
The final compilation here has a geographical approach. Music from South America, which is hardly something new if you read these pages well, even this week's issue. Sudamerica Electronica is a new label from Buenos Aires, dealing with 'extreme noise and extreme nature', and they start off with a compilation that deals with artists that are part of EXPerimentaclub + LIMb0 - without telling us what this club is about exactly, other than an 'interchange project'. Musicians from Argentina, Puerto Rico, Brasil, Peru, Uruguay, Chile, Mexico and Colombia are present here and all deal with electronic music in either a rhythmic form, a noise form or a combination of both. This means that real techno is not present, nor improvisation along the lines of Capece/Merce reviewed elsewhere, but noisy blocks of sounds that form drones, noise, or industrialized noise. No doubt these people don't set out to look for a complete introduction to all things experimental from the vast continent, but besides names as Cornucopia, Jorge Castro, Christian Galarreta, Pablo Reche, many new names such as 1605 Munro, Andres Y ralf, FAQ, Jorge Haro, Brain Mackern, Felix Lazo, Santiago Pereson, Juan Reyes, Manuel Rocha Iturbide, Rodrigo Sigal and Wilson Sukorksi. (FdW)


CEM GÜNEY - PRAXIS (CD by Cronica Electronica)
The name Cem Güney sounds like a name I heard before, but I have no idea when and where. He hails from Turkey, where he taught himself how to play the trumpet and he studied in California. There he got interested in sound art and started to play electronic music. That's the basic stuff I do understand of the press text. The rest is too hard for me to comprehend. Lots about language, voices, talk, spiritual learning and more such things, but I must admit I have great difficulty in finding out what this has to do with the music he created using laptop, field recordings and radio. It sounds all pretty decent in terms of microsound, glitch and processed field recordings, but I fail to see the relation with language as such. What Güney does here is alright, but there is nothing here that we haven't heard before. The glitches, hiss, loops, twitter and tweak, it is very common ground. I must say that Güney does a fine job in terms of production and execution but doesn't get the price for the most original thing of the year. (FdW)


OAKEATER - MOLECH (LP by Nihilist Records)
IRR. APP. (EXT)/PANICSVILLE (LP by Nihilist Records)
There is information on only two of the three releases here, and I think I do know who Thurston Moore is, but Graham Moore? 'The fine performer, song writer, and writer of folk musicals'? Another problem arises when to detect which side is by whom. Looking at the run out grooves and seeing how the record slips out of the cover, divided by status of the artists, I think Thurston is on side A, and Graham on side B. I might be wrong, judging by the feedback I heard on Graham's myspace. I am not a detective, bloody hell. The a-side, perhaps the Thurston one, is one piece of harsh noise, going through various stages, the rumble at first and then up the land of feedback. Not exactly music to wake up to, but at least you are awake. The other side is more subtle, more a collage of various noise based sounds, but with more dynamics applied to the various stages of mixing these sounds. The more interesting angle of noise for me. Maybe the artists are switched around - but it wouldn't change my review of it.
Oakeater (very good to see some normally typed flyers for the label with this, other I couldn't have told it from the record cover), is a 'trio that is equal parts ritual ambient, black metal, industrial noise and demi-spell casting', and the members are active in other bands too: Seth plays in Coughs and Panicsville, Jeremy also in Panicksville and Alex is an ex member of Bret Gand Is Dead. They have released a bunch of cassettes so far and this is the first major release. I think the description given by the label covers quite well what is captured on this piece of vinyl. Mumbling esoteric voices, guitars lurk beneath the surface and at the end of side B, there is a minimal pulse groove. In the late 80s we would have called this 'ambient industrial' and certainly there can be traces to Contrastate or Illusion Safety - all in that period - and there is a certain undercurrent in this music which is not strictly my cup of tea, that is the ritualistic elements that they throw in, but Oakeater knows how to keep them under control - just don't look at the cover and you'll be alright.
The best of three comes in the form of a split LP by Irr. App. (Ext) and Panicsville. Matt Waldron's Irr. App. (Ext) has gained some reputation over the years, not just because of his solo work, but also his membership of Nurse With Wound. In his solo work he plays some rather dark atmospheric pieces of music, which in this new case isn't that drone based, but still rather subdued. Built from elements of improvisation on instruments we no longer recognize, heavily processed into a nice flowing piece of electronics slowly shifting about. Not a work that is a real surprise, but nevertheless a fine solid Irr.App. (Ext) piece.
The Panicsville side shows them in a more improvised mood than a noisy one, which we might be used to with them. Like their main-man Andy Ortmann they too moved away from the strict noise happening in order to grow further and expand the possibilities of doing what is possible with sound. They remind me here of old Nurse With Wound, with scrapings, vague percussion interludes and swirling electronics based on wind instruments. The best thing I heard by them. (FdW) Address:


STEFAN ROIGK - UP.RISING (LP by Tochnit Aleph)
This is a review about something that is no longer available in this form. Stefan Roigk 's single sided LP was also available in a limited edition of 20 copies with a bonus CDR. Roigk is a visual artist, who released in 2006 a catalogue of his work of sculptures along with a CD, which is also part of the edition of 20 copies. In his sculptures textiles play an important role, but also sound elements. On 'Up.Rising' you will find a pure sound installation, if I understood it well. Other things that were not easy to understand was the sound origins of this record. I believe it is based upon sounds from the building in which the exhibition took place. There is a lengthy description on the insert, dealing with space and air. But that is not easy to understand, nor does the music give that many clues. The music is collated together from various sound sources, a bit like Schimpfluch or Dave Philips would do. Short, loud sounds interrupt the general atmosphere. Even with missing a bit of the context in which this was produced, I found it all quite fascinating. Certainly something to hear and watch (the exhibition catalogue that is) and let your own imagination run wild. (FdW) Address:


My love for Illusion Of Safety can't be a secret, though I am not a follower with no critique. There is a great deal of CDs, vinyl, CDRs and tapes around with their music, and some I rank as 'absolute' master pieces ('Historical', 'Probe', the first two 'Mort Aux Vaches' for instance), and some I found more curious than good, like 'Inside Agitator', but the vast majority of the release are labeled as 'good' or better. These days Illusion Of Safety is no longer a band, but the one man band of Daniel Burke, although former (?) member Chris Block did the photos for the cover. In recent years Burke has settled on a more specific style of sound, which involves electronics, laptop and hand held objects attached with contact microphones. Pre-recorded sound material, mainly snippets from radio, TV an records, the 'field recordings' as well as electronic sounds are mixed with electro-acoustic objects in an extraordinary manner. This is the meeting point of many influences: improvised music, musique concrete, industrial music, microsound even, all in a highly intense set of music. Music that has a soundtrack like character. Why isn't Daniel Burke a famous Hollywood soundtrack composer, I wonder? I can imagine great movies with this music, better than much of the muzak that now comes with 'scary' movies'. The shock tactics that Burke uses, the swift changes in his music, are less present here than before, but add that cinematographic character to the music. It's perhaps also the most present element from the world of industrial music which you can find in his music these days. Never brutally loud - that station is past history luckily enough - but angular at times, flowing easily at others, playing with the notion of silence and loudness, and never strictly confined to laptop techniques, which firmly sets him aside of some many others. The strange thing is, in my opinion, why isn't this a household name, playing all the major festivals there are in this field? Organizers, film makers and listeners: please pay some more respect. (FdW) Address:


Somebody who has been active since the majority of you walked in diapers is Zan Hoffman. I never knew he had a strong relationship with Spain where's been a couple of times since 1993, but with musicians from there, he has been collaborating since 1985. On location he made a whole bunch of field recordings and for 'Donostiako Zuloak' he recorded 'holes in San Sebastian/Donesti' in 2007 as a preparation for a concert. I am not sure if this release is a recording of that concert, or based on the same material. Likewise I have no idea what he means by 'recordings made in holes'. Caves? Holes in the ground? Your guess is as good as mine, I guess. In the thirty minutes that this piece lasts Hoffman plays around with many sounds from natural sources, such as wind. Mainly wind actually. There are bits of mumbling voices, like children in the background and perhaps other human interference. The pieces more or less stays on one level, without moving in a distinctly different area, which makes it much more ambient in the sound scaping sense, then say microsound. One of those things you can put one, not too loud, and simply enjoy as a background piece. Ambient music so to say. (FdW) Address:


Most of us will probably know silken tofu as a nice soft ingredient in Eastern food courses, though take notice: Silken Tofu is also a Belgian label focusing on experimental electronic music. Founded in 2006 the label approximates twenty releases. Present three albums are quite different releases though they both belong to the darkest sides of electronic music. First album is an eight track-release packaged in a slim DVD case with a black gun decorating the cover sleeve. The album titled "Cure for cancer" is running 21 minutes and created by a project known as Aiwass Prophet. Behind the project you find Didier Didelez and Saby Tyck that musically operates in spheres of noise and old school power electronics. Don't expect the over-the-top crushing kind of power electronics, more likely the noise parts are based on screeching noises as well as deep subtle buzz drones accompanied by a male voice. In expressions there are associations back to power electronics pioneers Whitehouse as well as to Industrial-pioneers in Throbbing Gristle. Not being an extremely harsh album, "Cure for cancer" belongs to the world of sheer darkness. Next release is a 3" CDR with the very interesting title "<>I'll Keep You In An Oaken Box, With Velvet For Your Bed". The project is called Sigillum Dei and originates from England. In contrary to the semi-harsh expressions of Aiwass Prophet, Sigillum Dei operates in opposite sound spheres of very calm and subtle expressions. The composer uses found samples and environmental recordings to create some intensely textured ambient drone-scapes. Despite its calm nature the listener doesn't drift into sleep - the music is far too creepy falling asleep to. The atmosphere is very intense and hypnotic thanks to the minimal and repetitive nature of the album. Last album comes from Belgian composer Peter de Koning operating under the name TraumaSutra. His self-titled release on Silke Tofu comes in a slim DVD case and contains two pieces. First piece is the main work on the album composed by TraumaSutra himself, mean while the following track is a remix executed by Crank Sturgeon, based on the sounds of first track. The main piece composed by TraumaSutra is a length work running 36 minutes. It must be categorized as ambient, thanks to the complete lack of rhythm textures, though it is not the kind of ambient work that let you slip away. The expression is noisy and quite creepy with a number of strange field recordings and voice samples helping to create a hostile atmosphere. (Niels Mark)


GOOD NOISE BAD NOISE - JOIST HOUNDS (CDR by Earth Monkey Productions)
Earth Monkey Productions is net-label from Cumbria established in 2006 with focus on electronic experimentations, sound art and spoken word. Latest efforts from the label are the Collector's Series, which are 3" CDRs released in limited editions. The opening two releases in the series are quite interesting releases both being based in the abstract sound worlds of ambience. First release is by a project called "Good Noise Bad Noise". The CDR runs for 18 minutes and is divided into 5 chapters. The style is Ambient but with a noisy edge. The expressions are abstract and dreamlike in atmospheres with found sounds moving backward and forward meanwhile samples of acoustic instruments such as screeching violins creates some high frequency noises. Final track titled "Dial lone owl" is my favorite moments with distant sounds of field recordings buried in a soup of abstract noises. The result is like a strange dream. Though the second release also belongs to the dreamlike state of abstract ambience there is also rhythmic signs on this release. The album titled "Slow corrosion EP" is based on compositions by Susan Matthews remixed by the artist Clutter. Opening track on this album titled "Slow corrosion Ep" belongs to the darkest territories of trip hop with dragging beats slowly moving in creepy electronic atmospheres assisted by the voice of Susan Matthews that in its style reminds a bit of Kim Gordon from the early years of Sonic Youth. From second track forward the expression moves into pure ambient territories. Creepy soundscapes built on found sounds, processed and concrete mixed up with the excellent voices of Susan Matthews. Two interesting opening releases in the Collector's Series. (Niels Mark) Address:


Both of these releases include the ever restless mind of Iason, one of the keyplayers of Greek true underground music, mastermind behind the Tilt label, and player of electronic music with many people around him. But he is not the sort of guy to make things an one-off occasion, as he brings many of these projects on the road. The first release is a collaboration by PS Stamps Back (Iason's solo moniker) and Mono.tonik, being one Alex who 'played a computer'. Iason played insectos tropicales synth, audiomulch, strings and pedals. Although the cover lists various tracks it seems to me they are the result of one or more jam sessions cut in such a way that they form one piece. There is a strong interest here to explore rhythm and sound. The rhythm component borrows its ideas from the shaped minimalism of Pan Sonic, where the sound part are monolithic blocks of sine waves being altered and finely sliced. Music to be played in darkened basements as part of obscure dance parties. Not that everyone would in fact move to these beats, but the crowd will be moving. Post minimalist techno music and as such quite a nice one.
The same sound sources Iason used for his release as Rites Of Dissonance, which he recorded with Aris on self made electronics and effects. I am not sure when it is decided to make a new band name and when it's simply '&', perhaps when they go on tour? Musicwise this is not too far away from the previous release, but things here are more spun out. The releases with Alex has more shorter pieces, arrive a bit more quickly at what they want, whereas the five pieces with Aris take more time, develop more slowly but work more in a trance like manner. As such it seems to me that these pieces are more worked out, composed as a result of improvising together, and then deciding how make the final version. The element of techno is even further reduced, stripped bare to its most naked version. More like music released by Ant-Zen, me thinks, but surely a fine work too. (FdW) Address:

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