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Vital Weekly 643

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DIETER MÜH/MNEM - ATOMYRIADES (CD by Cipher Productions)
For me the name Dieter Müh sounds like something old, not prehistorical, but just a voice from the past. Maybe its because I didn't hear much of their music that I think it's very old, but looking at their website at http://www.dietermuh.org, it seems the first activities were around 1994. Since then they have played a handful of concerts and a bunch of releases, of which I remember some - well, the cover of the release that is. Here Dieter Müh, which is in concert a duo of Dave Uden on samplers, vocals and effects and Steve Cammack on sampler, vocals and effects, but here just David Uden, who uses sound material supplied by Polish musician Mnem, of whom I also didn't hear for quite some time. I must admit I forgot what Mnem does, but I do recall something with computers and guitars (I might be wrong). Uden adds Tibetan Singing Bowl, Moroccan Flute and Jaw Harp. This leads up to eight pieces of what can be best described as mildly old school industrial music. Its noise music but it never goes over the top, landing in the world of distortion and feedback. Yet there are mild distortions to be spotted, repeated loops of obscured sounds (vinyl, voices, field recordings? Who knows?), sound effects working almost over time, especially delay and reverb machines. Sounds are fed through digital and analogue machines and synthesizers, rhythms are formed, and torn apart, built up and thrown about. The machinery used these days may differ from the ones used in the 80s, but the result is not far from it. Music that easily fits Zilverhill's recent release (I keep thinking what the connection is between the two projects - it somehow fails to get to me) of 'nothing new under the sun, and certainly a time warp back to the late 80s when equipment got better and industrial music a bit more technically interesting, but for 2008 certainly a bit outdated, but since I'm old and sometimes melancholic about the old days, I thought it was quite nice'. That sort of thing. (FdW) Address: http://iheartnoise/cipherproductions

 

JOHN HUDAK - ON AND ON (CD by Presto!?)
Despite his long career in sound art, the name John Hudak doesn't appear that often in Vital Weekly, perhaps mainly because releases these days are a bit sparse. Here on 'On And On' we hear him play guitar. Inspired by the black-capped chickadee, which is a bird in case you wonder, which sang four notes, A to G, G to F, and the next day it only sang A and G which inspired Hudak to strum his guitar for a long time and then transferring it to midi information, in which the computer simplified the strumming. The resulting melody was then used to trigger the pitches of an instrument much like a dulcimer. A seventy minute piece is the result, which breathes the minimalism Hudak is best known for. Notes are repeated in a simple, relaxing, minimal way, yet one has no sense of listening to long loops of the material. It's not going from a to b and back, but its a strict linear composition. I was playing this while I had a visitor and meanwhile I was transferring a cassette to another computer - the cassette was old so the mechanism was chirping, a bit like a bird. The doors were open, and outside sounds - cars, more birds - sweetly drifted in and out of the Hudak piece. It added to the already highly ambient piece of music. Also by itself, with headphones, this is a rather beautiful piece of music. I sometimes complain things are too long, which they usually are, but these seventy minutes could easily last an entire evening, sitting on the balcony and create a new mix of taped and environmental sounds. Excellent ambient music. (FdW)
Address: http://www.prestorecords.com

 

VORWOLF - SNAKE'S EYE (CD by Formed Records)
BEINS/CAPECE/DAVIES/NAKAMURA - SLW (CD by Formed Records)
Its been a while since we last saw a release by Formed Records, who started out with a bunch of nice releases from the world of improvisation. Usually it involves some sort of electronics, but with Vorwolf the percussion is the central piece of equipment. Vorwolf is Micheal Vorfeld and Christian Wolfarth, who recorded in july, in a two day session, a bunch of improvisation, of which this is the outcome. I don't think I saw either of them ever play their music in concert, but they use the qualities of their percussion kits to create a rich patterns. Cymbals are struck with bows, making a nice scratching sound, snares and bass drums are played with objects, rather than sticks or brushes, and occasionally they go back to playing the drums in a more traditional manner. Thus they move between the old and new world of improvisation, as if to say: we can also play improvised music the old way! We're good drummers! That we already knew of course. Although this work was pretty good, I thought it wasn't the best in its field. I am not sure if this was because of the shifts between old-new improvisation or the fact that both instruments sound the same, which makes that it not always makes a difference in sound approach, I don't know. Good, not the best however.
The second release is by the instant quartet of Burkhard Beins (percussion, objects), Lucio Capece (soprano saxophone, bass clarinet, preparations), Rhodri Davies (harp, electro-acoustic devices) and Toshimaru Nakamura (no-input mixing board). Together they played on October 16th 2006 in Brussels and this almost hour long piece is the result. It's also the meeting of highly talented players in this field. Beins plays, I think, in the most traditional way, with occasional loud bangs on his kit - perhaps that's the only element we can truly recognize. The other instruments play sounds that are best described as a combination of feedback, drones and sine waves. The instrument as object is extremely important here, and also how it resonates when amplified. Each of the players has a wide array of techniques to approach this, ranging from sustained sounds, short, looped sound, with or without curves, silence, loud: this bumps all over the place to maintain a vivid and imaginative piece of music. Sometimes creepy soft, sometimes ear-shattering loud, but always engaging. A fine work by key players of modern improvisation. (FdW)
Address: http://www.formedrecords.com

 

SAUL STOKES - VILLA GALAXIA (CD by Hypnos/Binary)
MESSAGE FROM A SUBATOMIC WORLD (CD compilation by Hypnos)
Recently, in Vital Weekly 632, we reviewed three new releases by Hypnos, which seemed to be the first in quite some years. It seems that label has now various sub division, diversifying their musical output. There is Hypnos Secret Sounds, Hypnos Recordings and Hypnos/Binary. I am not sure what the differences are, but hearing Saul Stokes' new release on Hypnos/Binary, I am sure that binary stands for things with beats in them. Rhythm plays an important role in the music of Stokes, but as noted with his previous release, 'Vast' (Vital Weekly 519), Stokes is not the man to play click and cut rhythms with some shady ambient sauce. Both the rhythm and the synthesizers are on par with eachother - they are equally important to him. Stokes himself says that is strips 'away any notion of ambient drone or chill out labeling', but I may not entirely agree with him there. This music certainly owes much to the ambient house genre of more than a decade ago, even when his beats are not strictly four to the floor affairs. His beats support the music, and the music support the beats, and his rhythms are more complex than simple dance floor beats, yet nevertheless they are reminiscent that. Not that it really matters - in ambient music (with or without rhythm) there hasn't been much innovation, and it doesn't come through the music of Stokes either. I didn't expect that. This is music that should be valued inside its genre and as such Stokes plays some mighty pleasant pieces music. Music to relax by, while tapping your feet along to it.
On the 'normal' Hypnos label, a compilation under the banner of 'Message From A Subatomic World', presenting the 2008 state of affairs in ambient land. Just thinking out loud, I seem to recognize only the names of Evan Bartholomew, True Colour Of Blood and Oophoi. I never like reviewing compilations, and certainly not those that don't have a specific thematic approach, but are merely a postcard, the menu of the day, or whatever. And unfortunately this 'Message From A Subatomic World' is such a compilation. I played this frequently over the past few days, especially in the later part of the evening when reading a book, to take of my mind of whatever I heard during the day, or, simply, other events. The ambient music of Hypnos and the ten artists present here is most suitable for such an evening. Its music to relax by, do 'nothing', to dream while being awake. Very nice. But I could I tell who did what? Is there that ultimate stand out piece of music that really makes that splitting difference, the new, spectacular view on ambient music? I'm afraid there is no such thing. That can bother me as a reviewer, not as a listener. Then I can simply enjoy the lush textured music by Austere, Relapxych O, Numina, Jason Sloan, Phaenon, Stephen Philips and Svartsinn. (FdW) Address: http://www.hypnos.com

 

BEEQUEEN - TIME WAITS FOR NO ONE (CD by Herbal)
"Time waits for no one". How true that is; took me quite some of it, to get to actual writing on this latest offering from Beuys aficionados "Beequeen". This re-release of the 1995 album, has been spinning in my player for quite some months now, and I try to make myself believe that 2 or 3 months more, do not affect the discourse. After all, this album has been out there for quite a bit already and as opposed to the title, this album doesn't sound outdated at all. Unfortunately I cannot do the test of comparing it with the original, but I have to say that the re-mastering (care of Jos Smolders) is crystal clear and carries a warm vibe. Okay, so the overall feel brings back thoughts of droney tribalism a la Zoviet France and/or soundscape experimentation a la Hafler Trio, but still today Stockhausen and Henry sound fresh to me. Modern day droneys like Uton or Datashock do not acknowledge their roots either. "Time Waits for no one" is a great album that spreads about a certain calmness and that grows on you after repeated listens. Sometimes the edges get a bit sharper but the overall atmosphere is moody, dark and eerie. Not depressive though, more the contemplative kind or the ideal setback to repent one's sins. Apart from that is it also interesting for the new listeners that got more acquainted with recent albums like "Sandancing" or "The Body Shop". Essential listening so to speak; a piece of history brought back to life by the gentle folks at Herbal International. (Steffan de Turck) Address: http://www.geocities.com/herbalrecords

 

LEHN & SCHMICKLER - NAVIGATION IN HYPERTEXT (CD by A-Musik)
LEHN & SCHMICKLER - KOLNER KRANZ (LP by A-Musik)
It's a bit much, a CD and a LP, I guess, but it's the follow-up to an album from 2000, the semi-classic 'Bart' release, so perhaps it's not that much. Thomas Lehn is a well-known player of the old EMS Synthi synthesizer and as such has played with many improvising colleague's around the globe, in ad hoc ensembles but also in some longer lasting groups, such as Konk Pack and E-Rax. Schmickler is more the composer of the two, with great works under his own name, but also with Pluramon, Wabi Sabi, Param and Mimeo, in which he can practice his improvisational skills, along with Lehn. Since 2000 they play as a duo, Lehn on his synthesizer and Schmickler on his laptop, and following the 'Bart' release they played around the world, and like good improvisors do, everything was recorded, which now culminated in these two releases. If I'm right the LP has one concert recording, from Cologne (no information on this CDR version) and the CD has a selection from eight different cities, but spread out over twenty-two tracks. Not that in either case we could have said it was taken from one or more concerts. They move between lots of textures and atmospheres, quiet and loud, that its not easy to say where they are - geographically speaking. Having said that, it doesn't mean that both CD and LP sound the same; there are strong differences. The CD is more balanced, works the dynamics better, ranging from the soft to the loud, from chopped to pieces to large drone like blocks of heavy weight sound. Things bump and collide to eachother in a great manner. The LP is a bit different, and perhaps its a bit 'easier' to hear that it is from one concert, but here things are throughout a bit more noise based. Right from the very first second things are loud and present - perhaps a bit more on the first side than the second, but this is much in total a somewhat different trip than the 'Navigation In Hypertext' album. Loud, distorted but also captivating, albeit on a somewhat different level than the CD. I think I preferred the more balanced and varied CD over the somewhat single-minded LP, but both showed two highly skilled and imaginative improvisers at work. (FdW) Address: http://www.a-musik.com

 

DYLAN NYOUKIS/DENNIS TYFUS (LP by Ultra Eczema)
According to Dennis Tyfus - real name it seems - I am wrong in assuming that his label Ultra Eczema is only interested in releasing noise. Apparently and utter wrong assumption there. To proof his statement, he mailed me his split LP with Dylan Nyoukis and well, yes, alright, this is not a noise LP, at least not in the classical sense of the N-word. If I have to think of a word - and since I am writing about this, I guess it's my job to think - I'd say this is an album of sound poetry. Both gentlemen use voice material, their own voice, along with some guest vocals. These vocals are 'manipulated', 'stolen', 'taped' and 'looped' and the results are two side long pieces of music in which we recognize the voice surely enough but also crude manipulations - I'd like to avoid the word noise here, but especially on the Tyfus side of things things are a bit harsher. His voice manipulations are covered with mild feedback, and its not a really harsh affair. That makes both sides quite enjoyable. Both Nyoukis and Tyfus sound in their tape treatment of voice, the use of crude electronics and the actual voices like the brutal but well-educated sons of Henri Chopin. What grand-daddy did, so can they. Nicely lo-fi sound poetry. (FdW) Address: http://www.ultraeczema.com

 

MICHEAL RODGERS - CURTAINED MOON (CDR by Black Petal)
On Anthony Guerra's Black Petal label we have here a solo release by his buddy Micheal Rodgers with whom he forms the duo Broken Hands. Rodgers was born in Memphis, Tennesee and plays acoustic guitar here. Elsewhere I review a CDR release by Canyon, and that guy should pay notice here to what Rodgers does. Improvised also, but totally no electronic enhancement, no reverb, no delay, just a man with a guitar and two hands (and field recordings? Or did he just open the window?). Even when he manages it to sound like he has four hands. Maybe there is a bit of overdubbing here and there? I don't know, I don't care either. Intimate, atmospheric. Rodgers plays his guitar like a guitar - not like an object with strings attached to it and that makes a sound. In that sense it seems that Rodgers is a classic improviser, which is hardly an insult - just a fact to be noted. Sometimes strumming, sometimes plucking, intercepted by curious 'silences', when the door or the window is open and outside sounds slip through. Or when Rodgers hums along with his own play. Its almost like he is sitting next to you in very same room. You with your eyes closed, Rodgers playing the guitar. Intimate and atmospheric indeed, music that slows down time. (FdW) Address: http://www.blackpetal.com

 

KONZERT VOYAGER - IV (CDR by Ababel)
"ABABEL is the name given to a series of CDr's still in progress. It is created by Bertin. The idea of the Ababel label is to publish a series of CDr's with abstract music, sound-art, radio-play, noise or ambient work. Every release is an interpretation of a theme or subject often to do with 'time' or historic events or myths" it says on the Ababel website. I received the latest release, which is a drone work, recorded during the hurricane season. "This might sound spectacular but here in Europe, hurricane season is far from exciting", Bertin says with his usual dry wit on the website. Anyone familiar with his music knows that Bertin loves casio pop in combination with noise and spoken word. His 'Videorecorder' will be released on 7" soon, which is the best news for the underground dance floor in some time. So listening to this hour long piece of drone music, its hard to see Bertin creating it. It sounds great - if you like drone music, and I happen to do so. He plays organ, synthesizers and dubs in field recordings from church organs and such like. All finely woven together in a great mix. Great, but unBertin like. A bit of old cosmic music mixed with current laptop techniques. Think the UK drone meisters but a bit more crude and a bit more wild. Maybe at times also a bit like his fellow citizens Wander. At that not the most original work, but in a sparsely lit room, surely either fascinating and captivating or causing small horror - depends on your state of mind. (FdW)
Address: http://ababellabel.blogspot.com/

MARK TAMEA - TESSELLATION (CDR By AtmoWorks)
In Vital Weekly 626 I reviewed a compilation by Ressonus Records, and I noted the positive presence of one Mark Tamea, who was born in the UK but lives in The Netherlands - so I noted back then. More curious he lives in Nijmegen, lovely home town of the weekly HQ. Looking at his website now, I see he was also a member of Kymatik, a group that released a CD on Paradigm and which we reviewed in Vital Weekly 257. There is a lengthy quote from H.P. Lovecraft on the cover but no other information. Like what you may ask? Well, I'd be for instance curious to know if the instruments that I hear on this album, mainly cello and violins, are played by Tamea, or others, or that these are samples of some kind. They play quite an important in some of these pieces. In other pieces the electro-acoustic touch plays an important role, the door opening, outside recordings, that kind of thing. Tamea creates some great music (and I'm not saying this because he is from Nijmegen, but it helps). Its high and mighty conceived and composed, with lots of tension under neath in his piece, depicting a dream world, but not in an ambient sense of the word. More modern classical than purely electronic. 'Music for cello, tape and electronics' could be subtitle, if produced in that serious context. I was thinking of John Wall when I heard this. The same crystal clear instrument recording, cut and spliced together with some excellent field recordings. This is breathtaking beautiful CD. This guy should be big. (FdW) Address: http://store.atmoworks.com/

CURTIS CRAYON - GO FETCH THE MADMAN (CDR by 28angles)
The artist behind Curtis Crayon wishes to remain anonymous. But let me be so free as to make an assumption: I think its a new name chosen by Greg Headley. Why? It's released by his label 28angles, and that label has, as far as I know released nothing else than music by Headley. Maybe he wants to break away from his nice ambient based guitar induced microsound and something completely different for a chance. Maybe I am wrong. Who cares? Curtis Crayon creates music that is based on rhythm. It sounds pretty analogue to me, pretty angular in approach. This is not music that is made to dance, its too crude to do that. The rhythms are not made with drum machines - or rather: the results are not made with drum machines, but rather drum machines feeding through, filtering with analogue synthesizers. That gives the music more a pulsating feel than a 'dance' music feel. It reminds me at times of The Klinik or them Belgium counterparts. Crayon builds his pieces slowly by changing the filters, the parameters, the LFO, the VCR and whatever sine and saw tooth symbols the machines may have. It reminds me of Pan Sonic or Goem, but Crayon adds occasionally a more melodic touch to the music. It's not just about harsh sounds, it can also be sweet and cruel at the same time. That gives this music something that is not heard very often. It takes it leads from the world of techno, but its not techno. Industrial but then also quite not so industrial. Music with a great potential. I don't see where it grow into, but it certainly has various options open for the future. Way to go, Greg. I mean, Curtis. (FdW) Address: http://www.28angles.com

 

C. REIDER - INCONSTANT (MP3 by Treetrunk Records)
There was a time that artists (visual, musical) were talking about making things interactive, but now that the internet has arrived, one can wonder if the interaction has really started. There is no sense of communication at all in myspace, facebook or whatsyamacallit. However there might be exceptions here and there, and one of them might (!) the 'Constant' series, which idea it was to present a single piece of drone music, to which one could listen all day. The piece, released by various weblabels such as Webbed Hand, TZP Drone Company and Treetrunk, was open for remix (interaction!) and there are twelve versions of it to be found somewhere on the internet. For his part C. Reider took all twelve version and played them at the same time, but filtering out all the drones (how? I wondered) and the residue of that is his piece 'Inconstant'. This is not a piece of drone, but short sounds that are repeated, like made with some elaborate piece of equalization. Elements return, move out, move back in, all in a seemingly random way. That makes that this piece, though not a drone of sustaining sounds, is easily something you can put on repeat and play all afternoon - if only I had the time I pondered. The sliced up sounds, the small portions, repeated, filtered may not make much compositional sense, but its surely quite a pleasant thing to hear. At least for the full forty-six minutes here. (FdW) Address: http://www.archive.org/details/Inconstant

 

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