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Vital Weekly 644

img  Tobias

Legendary German label Ant-Zen Recordings is ready with three new explorations into experimental sounds. First of all known for being pioneer label for the power noise-style, two of the present efforts demonstrates the label's orientation into other stylish expressions. First album comes from the Dutch project [Law-Rah] Collective run by the two sound artists Bauke van der Wal and Matijn Pieck. [Law-Rah] Collective was founded by Bauke van der Wal back in 2000 and since then the project has launched more than ten releases with focus on drone-based ambient. Having never listened to the earlier releases I was quite stunned with this latest album titled "Inspiration". First of all drifting in beat-less atmospheres the music is based on deep drones that swirl into vital darkness. The project's minimalist approach to ambient drones creates an awesome experience of trance-induction and sheer beauty. As the album approaches the end, the first signs of rhythm textures appears with the piece called "A12", where the drones of blackness are accompanied by rhythms that slowly builds until the grand final: The lengthy track "T luie end", a beautiful piece based on piano. Next album comes from German project called 100Blumen headed by sound artist M. Nickels. Present album titled "Floral annihilation" is the follow-up to the debut-length also released on Ant-Zen. As was the case with the debut "In floriculture there is no law", "Floral annihilation" circulates in-between harsh noise/power electronics and industrial in the style often termed rhythmic noise or power noise. The debut was a brutal beast with heavy weight on the crushing noise expressions. "Floral annihilation" continues in the vein but the expression is slightly less brutal and noisy in expression with a sound reminiscent of fellow compatriots in Morgenstern and Asche. Still 100Blumen has its own approach to the genre and thus this follow-up is a warm welcome for anyone interested in the extreme territories of Power Noise. Last album comes from the strange project Von Magnet titled "Nie predateur ni proie". Von Magnet has been active since the mid-eighties resulting in as large catalogue of albums. That the group is more than a musical is easily heard on the unusual style of the album, with expressions that contains a theatrical kind of atmosphere. It is not easy pigeonholing the style, since there is quite some stylish variation throughout the album, ranging from ethno electronica across industrial ambient to touches of world music, thanks to the use different acoustic instruments counting sitars, violins etc. If you thought that Ant-Zen was only a matter of industrial-based music, present albums demonstrate that this is far from the truth. (Niels Mark) Address: 

PANGAEA NOISE (Compilation CD by Syrphe)
As a follow-up to last years excellent compilation "Beyond ignorance and borders: An African middle eastern Asian noise and electronic compilation", Belgium label Syrphe once more takes the listener on a trip to the lesser known territories of extreme electronic music. Where the first compilation had a stylish wider approach to experimental electronic music, the tracks on this one almost exclusively remains in the loud vein of expressive noise. Still the approach to the harsh sounds is nicely varied and adventurous here. Best moments on the album is the drone-based ambient-noise from Slovenian Aluviana and the Latvian artist Error with his buzzing, beautiful noise track sounding like a symphony of bee swarms. Also the South Korean artist 10 impresses a lot with his weird and very loud track built on noise patterns circulating back and forth between the speakers with a quite hypnotic result and the Iranian artist Nyctalllz that with his work based on subtle noise, manages to create a musical piece of sheer terror and creepy atmospheres. "Pangeae Noise" is another great international compilation from Syrphe, demonstrating that the Noise scene of today still flourishes into new and interesting forms. (Niels Mark)

Its been a while since I last heard from Tujiko Noriko, in fact I can't really remember, or easily find old reviews. Somehow I think I missed out on 'Blurred In My Mirror', but 'U' is quite a surprise. No longer Noriko is by herself, playing some keyboards and singing, and ending her songs in long instrumentals. Here she gets help, from label boss Lawrence English on drums, bass, synths, keyboards and electronics and John Chantler on guitars, bass, drums, accordion, synths and violin. In that sense this not 'Noriko plus' but a full scale, equal trio. The songs have grown too. No longer they last six minutes, of which half are sung and then moving into a long instrumental outro, but the songs are to the point dream pop like songs. The boys strum their instruments, and Noriko's vocals are child like, sweet, complaining, angry or whatever the lyrics (mostly in Japanese) require. The production is great, imaginative, evocative and to the point. Not a single instrument seems out of place in this wonderful nice combination of pop, folk and electronics. Its hard to believe that this is the result of playing and collaborating through (e-)mail, as the coherency between the pieces, instruments and vocals, is great. Excellent work, the best I ever heard from this lady and these boys. (FdW) Address:

DERIVES (CD compilation by Univers International)
If I am not mistaken, 'Derives' is the first real CD released by Univers International and they wanted it to be something special. I must admit I neither see nor hear that 'something special'. Seven tracks of field recordings, of 'active listening of their own environment' by some reknown artists, such as Francisco Lopez, Tô, Jgrzinich & Murmer, Helena Gough and perhaps a bit lesser known, Rui Costa, Pali Meursault and Maksimns Shentelevs. The label before has released a small bunch of 3"CDR releases, and this new work is the perfect introduction to those. The seven pieces aren't just pure field recordings, but also interferences in the field themselves. However I don't think there that many external sound processing elements in this record. As such things sound still pure and acoustic. Its a nice collection of tracks, although I must admit nothing special. Good, sturdy pieces that evoke pictures in the mind. Lopez in the jungle, Costa around a village with farm land and sometimes things are simply too abstract to make a clear view of what we hear. A varied record of all fine tracks. Nothing more but certainly nothing less than that. (FdW) Address:

The line 'new names arrive every week' I may have used before, but I never heard of Concrete Cookie and The Maggot Farmer, even when they have been around for some time. The Maggot Farmer is sometimes also called Jism, The Dog, and has been a member of Alien Race and Electronic Bubble Frog. Concrete Cookie is a classically trained pianist who abandoned playing to pursue architecture). Sometimes they operate as Mash Up, but here under their current pseudonyms and perhaps with a different kind of music. What they present here is best described as hermetically closed ambient industrial music. Highly processed kling-klang of sonic debris which was first burned, the ashes buried and then exhumed and glued back together. Field recordings you say? Perhaps. Metallic rumble? Sure, why not. Electronic processing? No doubt. Rather than playing the right composition, they prefer to play the right mood. If tracks are long and somewhat out of control, its alright. If it fits the mood, then its good. Textured music at its very best. Nothing new under this dark cloud, but surely that too was never intention of this duo, I'm sure. They are alone on the planet yet share the bleak vision with the rest. (FdW) Address:

D_RRADIO - D_RRADIO REMIXED (CD by Distraction Records)
Following their three excellent 7"s on Distraction Records, their album kinda was a disappointment - too much of the same I thought (see Vital Weekly 612). Looking at the various press comments that come on the blurb with the remix record, I am sure I am the only one. It makes me wonder what I should think of a remix album then? Were the songs 'bad' enough that needed a remix treatment? Perhaps not. This is the world of boys in bedrooms with computers using all sorts of software to re-create, re-mix, alter and re-shape the originals, which they thought were good anyway, but why not spice them up some more. And rightly so. It perhaps may attract some new friends to the album they all remix now. I recognize and name-check a few, like Manual, Piano Magic and Cathode, and see, again (!) many new names, like Populous, Depth Affect, The Matinee Orchestra, Ylid, Juxta Phona, Matthew Rozeik and Port Royal doing whatever they probably do best. Home grown dance music that most likely never makes it to a real dance floor, but that will make your feet tap along. Head nod armchair techno. Many seem to be using guitars (a six string plug in it seems) to spice up the original, and throughout I thought this was quite a fine journey. I should dig out the previous D_Rradio album and see what I think of it now, I am inclined to think. This surely is a most pleasant album, with all the minor differences carved out in the world of techno. Sometimes naive child like, minimalist, dubby, and joyous. Each dance musician in his own corner, making small ripples in the pond. (FdW) Address:

U.S.O. PROJECT - INHARMONICITY (CD by Synesthesia Recordings).
The Italian label Synesthesia Recordings is 'to be intended as a repository of live improvised electroacoustic works. The main goal is to retrieve the late Renaissance praxis of 'Ricercare' intended as exploration of a technical device playing it, subverting it in different ways'. Translated to the world of audio, this is done by the U.S.O Project, a duo of Matteo Milani (from Milan actually) and Frederico Placidi, both of whom I never heard. Both have a background with digital sound synthesis and acoustic sound treatments. U.S.O. stands for Unidentified Sound Object and very much like flying objects, their music moves about, seemingly off course. Whatever they do, it mainly sounds electronically. There is hardly an acoustic device in sight with these boys, or perhaps there were, but then there are well hidden in the electronic mass of sound that is cooked up here. In 'Invisible Worlds' the radio waves make up the sound sources. The long '... From The Past... Out of The Future...' is forty minutes long and the most 'silent' piece here. I think this piece sums up what this project stands for: long meandering sounds, which come from nowhere and which don't seem to go anywhere. Just a stream of silent sounds. Like with Concrete Cookie & The Maggot Farmer release reviewed elsewhere, this is not about carefully composing music, but playing moods and textures, albeit of a somewhat lighter side of the moon. A refined late night listening session. (FdW)

DISKONO 017 (LP by Diskono)
Things have been quiet on the release front of Diskono, but here they are back and headache it is, again. Not the music, but the concept. I'll try. On side A there is Scott Haggart's original 1:17 second composition - well, or so it seems. Maybe they are lock grooves? Maybe there is something wrong with my turntable? Apparently 'years to make', this one. On the b-side a bunch of artists use this piece to expand on it further. If I am right, probably not, then the original is a bunch of downsampled sounds, into a monotone block of sound, erm, composition perhaps. Its used and expanded by Lary Seven, Evol, Felix Kubin, White Daughter, Charlie McAlister and Jan van den Dobbelsteen - and yes, that is mystery times confusion = more mystery. Their remixes make things more heavy. As I was trying to listen to this, someone outside is using some machinery to clean his house, and those sounds mingled nicely with the tonal blocks and sustained machine rhythms that are part of this record. Each of the remixers seems to share Haggart's interest in deep resonating sounds from below surface, and together they form a monolithic drone piece that makes a unified impression on the listener. If only I could solve this puzzle and find out about those 1.17 seconds. (FdW) Address:

SKOGEN - SKOGEN (CDR by Bombax Bombax)
This new label from Sweden looks a bit like the smaller brother of Häpna (of whom we haven't heard in some time): the same plastic bags, nicely printed cover, although in a more conceptual approach. Musicwise they are not too dissimilar either. Skogen is a five piece band, of Erick Carlsson (drums, selected percussion), Magnus Granberg (piano), Henrik Olsson (bowls, cymbals, electronics), Leo Svensson (cello) and Petter Wästberg (objects, electronics). They also play in bands such as Gul3, The Tiny and Sheriff and occasionally with other improvisers from around the globe. Here they play an almost forty minute piece of music, that despite the way it sounds is not improvised but composed, by Granberg. The work develops slowly around loosely played sounds on the instruments, but somewhere (where?) things have arrived at a point where there are high pitched feedback tones. When they came in, I no longer recall. Actually I thought it was sound from outside at first until it turned out to be part of the music. A bit plinky-plink modern classical music I must admit, but the odd use of electronics in the second half prevented this work from leaping into boredom. Quite nice in the end.
Several of these members of Skogen are also part of Unforgettable H2O: Carlsson, Olsson and Wästberg, with the addition of Anders Dahl (electronics) and Matilda Nordenström (radio). This here is true improvised music. The press text talks about 'a cheerful time of cooking, eating and making noise' - maybe Flatefjäll is a dish of some kind? Here too the plink-plink approach sets the tone, but the more extensive use of electronics along with the more improvised elements on real instruments. Think AMM or Morphogenesis, but with perhaps a bit more action going on at times. Here the players are not purveyors of silence and wanting to let sounds die out, but there is always something going on. Great stuff.
Music by Anders Dahl was released before by Kning Disk, Häpna (see Vital Weekly 528) and Con-V (Vital Weekly 443, a collaboration with Henrik Olsson). He has three long pieces here, each made with a doorbell, plus whatever extra, which is all mentioned in the title: feedback, tapes, electronics (#1), tuning fork, crotale, clarinet, recorder, pitch pipe, bouzouki, guitar, electronics (#2), electronics, toy piano, sitar and tapes (#3). No mention of a computer, but no doubt that plays an important role in his music. The doorbell is something that is hard to recognize in these pieces. But I believe that is hardly important. Its perhaps more like a conceptual pun. In each of three pieces, Dahl uses a different approach to the same subject. He wants to play music that is highly atmospheric with slow developments, but because of the different instruments used per track, the ideas are sketched out differently. Computer processing seems to be playing a big role, it seems, but it doesn't always 'hide' the sound of the real instruments. The processing sets the background. Despite that Dahl also maintains a certain lo-fi quality in the music, a sort of New Zealand attitude. This release is the only that is 'composed' in a more traditional Vital Weekly sense and was graded 'best out of three' here. (FdW) Address:

Anyone who ever visits a concert and gets the thing later on CD (or any other media) knows its not the same experience. Away from the concert space, in the open space of ones own environment, things may be a bit different. No doubt it was a delight to watch Mattin on guitar, Michel Henritzi on lapsteel and harmonica and Junko's voice at the Densites festival in 2007. I didn't see it, but I can very well imagine how it was. The sheer silence of six minutes at the beginning and then slowly building into loud noise blasts with Junko screaming her lungs out. No doubt it was a great concert. But does it make a great release? I must say I am not entirely convinced. Its surely a noisy beast that will no doubt appeal to true noise heads, but the recording sounds a bit naff. It surely has potential to a really good piece of noise, but the somewhat suppressed sound prevents this to be. Not bad either, but not what could be gotten out of it.
The information on Cynas' 'Casset-o-rama' is a bit sketchy. It was sent out of the blue to Absurd by a Russian guy who recorded on his mobile studio while traveling through Greece. Somewhere he heard about Absurd/Editions_Zero, and mailed them the results. That's about the extent of the information here. The result are six pieces of lo-fi ambient music. Created with low resolution samples, which are layered together, going a bit out of sync with eachother to create that nice dense pattern. Maybe some of the pieces may sound a bit too similar, but perhaps that's just part of the esthetic that comes with this. It reminded me very much of the mid 80s tapes with similar low resolution ambient industrial music. That's always nice for an old man like me. (FdW) Address:

ELECTRONIC MESSAGES (CDR by Brown Coffee Recordings)
While this release has nothing to do with punk, I was thinking about the good ol' Do It Yourself attitude of punk rock. The somewhat cheap, xerox packaging helps of course, but also the music by fifteen electronic artists works that way. Here's a chord, here's another, now start a band. Here's a computer, here's a plug-in, now create some dance music. The artists where found on discussion groups 'where most of the artists use VST plugins applications & sound samples to create their music' it says in the blurb. An area where people usually have to time enough to chat about the latest software, where as they could spend more time on their music. Not that I didn't like this compilation, contrary, I had a great time playing it. I was doing some e-mail, read the newspaper, occasionally thought 'what a great ambient' piece (Victor Eijkhout) and pondered that I still don't like drum & bass, thought I should do some vacuum cleaning which in the end I didn't do, since I hadn't finished the paper and I was listening to this compilation. None of the names mean much to me (Runagate, John Havelock-Moore, Ian Sdhz, 3am, Very Angry Mobster, Carlos Natale, Gary Flanagan, Beatslaughter, Mauseoleum, Bogh, Necrosensual, Polyslax and Minimal Funk) leaving only initiatior SampleScience, being somewhere vaguely familiar. I didn't hear much 'new music' in the avant-garde sense of the word, but it was altogether an entertaining trip. (FdW)

C. HILTON - THE SMOKING MIRROR (CDR by Young Girls Records)
MAURIZIO BIANCHI & C. HILTON - PU 94 (CDR by Simple Logic Records)
Its been more than a year since we reviewed Craig Hilton's work with Yannick Franck (see Vital Weekly 574), but here he returns with two releases, one solo and one in collaboration with music legend Maurizio Bianchi. Both releases indicate 2007 as the year of release, but both are in fact just released - why no error correction? From the ancient Aztec mythology comes the title: "Smoking Mirror" linked Tezcatlipoca to obsidian, a black, volcanic stone whose shiny surface could be used as a mirror." That is somehow reflected (pun intended) in the music, which is quite a dark mass of sound too. Hilton uses 'everything' he says here 'Electronic sound sources, microtonal acoustic instruments, treated acoustics, found sounds', and moulds it together into three pieces of highly dense music. Everything is layered and stacked together, whereas the original sounds blurr and obscure, but in make a beautiful dark ambient symphonia. Much like his previous release with Franck, Hilton (of whom I never heard any solo work), this is an orchestral piece of music. Strings sound out loud, rain drops become waterfalls, and electronics tie everything together. Silence is absent in the music of Hilton - there should always be something heard. This work I thought was better than the one with Franck, since Hilton uses a variety of sound sources and techniques to keep things interesting. Nicely controlled dark atmospheres.
Which perhaps can also be said of the work conducted by Hilton and Bianchi. The process was like this: Hilton provided the basic material in the form of nine or ten sounds, which were reworked by Bianchi 'into an organic perpetuum mobile' and then the final mix was created by Hilton. Two long pieces at work here, a bit more monolithic than the 'The Smoking Mirror' and also a bit more electronic, with a lesser emphasis on field recordings and acoustic instruments - unless of course they have ultimately disappeared in the electronic processes that were used in this music. Big amorph masses of sounds, an ocean of cascading sounds, with many shades of grey collapse, collide together. Until a real collision takes place and things suddenly change shape, color, depth, speed or intensity. This is likewise a great release, perhaps not entirely suitable to be played right after eachother, but music to be played in the dark for sure (or to be avoided in the dark if that scares you too much - such can be the effects of these). (FdW)

Of these three new Ruidemos releases, the shortest is by two South American musicians, Mika Martini from Chile and Oscar Chaves from Colombia. Together they played in 2007 in Santiago de Chile. I don't know if this is an unedited cut of almost eleven minutes. Their electronics swirl around in big swimming pool of reverb and delay machines, but actually I must say its quite nice. Perhaps a bit scattered around, free floating in all directions, and perhaps a bit short. It certainly leaves matters open for the future.
An older, 2006 recording, by Tzesne, of whom we reviewed work before, together with one Bazterrak. The latter plays his own software called Software Slicer - which sounds like a great thing. 'Rekalde' lasts twenty-three minutes and there is not much slicing going on. One long piece of digital drone music, with a deep end bass, crackling glitches on top. A very nice piece of music. Dark, atmospheric, ambient and experimental. Nothing new, but executed with great. No doubt performed in total darkness.
Also with one track, but then almost forty-five minutes is a release by Cneo Cornelio, which seems like a new name to me. He (she?) hails from Spain, where this was recorded at Gabinette de Investigacion Sonora, Laboratorio CoDa. That sounds great. Its not easy to say what is used here, but its highly likely that its only some pieces of software running amok. But it seems also that it is picked up by some analogue gear to create a somewhat more rough edged piece of music. That saves the piece I guess. Just the computers playing around would have made things a bit too sterile. In the end the work is a bit long for what it wants to say, I think. It could have been a bit more concise and to the point, but nevertheless its quite alright altogether. (FdW) Address:

YUAF - VILLA OCKENBURG (MP3 by Larraskito)
MUBLES (CDR by Le Brutal Records)
Villa Ockenburg is near The Hague in The Netherlands and I have no idea what it is. But in April of this year Yolanda Uriz (flutes) and Angel Faraldo (live electronics) spent three days over there and they recorded the three pieces on this free release. The flute sounds are fed through what seems to be a computer with whatever kind of software we don't know, but the results are very nice. The sounds flow about, especially in the intense first part. Spooky, haunting, feedback like, full of menace. In the second part things become more concrete as well as traditionally improvised, which is the least interesting piece, and also the shortest. The last piece returns to the atmospheric side of things, but more stripped bare to its essentials. Perhaps a bit less spooky than the first part but quite nice as well.
Something entirely different is the release by Manuel Giao, who wants to connect beauty and horror, and wonders if that's possible. Well, yes, Giao, that is possible. The history of art is full of examples of that. His music is loud, based on guitars and distortion pedals, close to the point of feedback, lo-fi and dirty. The first piece opens up loud and is gradually torn down, but the second piece seemed the nicer one. Meandering through various sound effects, the guitar is less noise based but it gets there very occasionally. It makes that there are more things happening in the piece, and although not structured very much, its the more adventurous piece here.
As a CDR, from the same source, comes a release by Mubles, which is a group of Terri Florido, Miguel A. Garcia, Alvaro Matilla and Carlos Valverde. Perhaps one could see this as the cross-over between the previous releases, the combination of noise and improvisation, between ambient and composition. I believe to have heard guitars, lots of sound effects and electronics. Maybe there is more than that, but I am not sure. This quartet improvises their way through a whole bunch of grainy textures, dirty atmospheres, noisy quietness and silent harshness. Throughout not bad, but occasionally a bit long and a bit unfocussed. Moving in various directions at the same, rather than the four deciding upon a goal, it seems. That seems to me the next objective and then surely things will flourish from there on. (FdW)

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