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Vital Weekly 647

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HECTOR ZAZOU AND SWARA - IN THE HOUSE OF MIRRORS (CD by Cramned)
On 8 September 2008 French (albeit born in Algeria) composer and producer Hector Zazou sadly died, only 60 years old. With him the world lost one of the most influential and highly active composers whose name, despite the fact that Zazou collaborated with people like Dead Can Dance, David Sylvian, Bjork and John Cale, probably doesn't ring a bell with the general audience. This "anonymity" has always been Zazou's forte; as a silent, unobtrusive but strong collaborator, combining polarizing genres in his music. Born in 1948, Zazou came to prominence in the duo ZNR with Joseph Racaille. Their 1976 debut was linked to Satie's minimalism. His discography so far stretches over 20 albums, all of which feature cross-cultural collaborations, and incorporate modern techniques and sounds often in re-recordings of traditional material. Zazou is most known for his 1992 Sahara Blue collaboration album where Robert Rimbaud's poems were set to music. On what turns out to be his last album, In The House Of Mirrors, Zazou invited four outstanding Indian and Uzbekistan instrumentalists to contribute their music with his own minimalist patterns. As a result gentle washes of synthesized/electronic sounds are combined with bowed and plucked instruments of an ethnical nature. Sounding like ambient feel/chill out music from outer space, the concept does render slightly superfluous results at times. Highlights are Attainable Border and Wanna Mako, where Zazou manages to stay away from such chill-out music cliches. In all, a fine album, but perhaps not the best epitaph Zazou could wish for. (Freek Kinkelaar) Address: http://www.crammed.be

 

HEMLOCK SMITH & LES POISSONS AUTISTES - THREE TIMES DEAD (CD by Everest Records)
HOPEN - THEIR QUASI-HOMES ARE REAL HOLES (MP3 by Everest Records)
One of the things, one of the important things actually, I liked about Joy Division was the music and the production thereof. As a non-native speaker I must admit I didn't listen that carefully to the lyrics - but perhaps I was too young to understand what they were about. When I saw 'Control' I had the feeling to shout through the cinema, 'chin up, Ian, life's a bitch, but always look on the bright side of life'. I was thinking of this today when I played the release by Hemlock Smith & Les Poissons Autistes. There is a whole bunch of instruments listed, such as piano, bass, e-bowed and plucked guitar, trumpet, drum machine, rifles, lightbulb, roadworks, Jaipur's Temple monks, synths, laptops. They are played by Stephane Babey, Philipe Simon and Michael Frei. The latter is also responsible for the words. Its a collaborative work. Frei is known as Hemlock Smith and as such a singer songwriter, and Les Poissons Autistes are the other two, playing more ambient like music. Where exactly does Joy Division come in? Well, exactly here. The music that is played here doesn't entirely match up of the division, but their moody, textured sounds are a fine meeting of soundscapes, modern classical music and even popmusic. Say Talk Talk era 'Spirit Of Eden'. Wonderful music. But then every song is a song, with lyrics. Frei sings them from what seems below the grave. A deep dark voice, and certainly not very uplifting lyrics. I had a pretty hard time with that. For me it more or less ruins a musically interesting CD. 'If death is a passage, then what am I paying, if death has a message do I speak its tongue' that sort of thing. Received with mixed feelings.
In digital format comes a release by Bruno Gillet, also known as Hopen (which is actually a Dutch word meaning 'many'), who plays many instruments (guitar, drums and knives are mentioned) and is inspired by Zappa, Autechre and Luc Ferrari, which seems like an eclectic taste. Its not easy to say something about this crazy mixture of music. There are lots of guitars and drums, swirling electronics, occasionally too much reverb, free improvisation and tight composition. Oh wonders of the computer I thought when I heard this. That one and only true blender for anybody who is aspiring to be a composer in his or her own right. This is a strange melting pot of music, which is sometimes delicate to hear, especially when he gets his act together and knows what he wants to play a composition, and sometimes utterly annoying when his improvisations just seem to run wild. But throughout this wild adventure in sound worked well. (FdW)
Address: http://www.everestrecords.ch

 

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN - LA PENTE/LOUPIOTES (7" by Lexi Disques)
The website for Benjamin Franklin doesn't tell us much about him, just mostly were we can see him perform. But perform doing what? I don't know. Lexi Disques offers a 7inch with two tracks, one from 1999 and one from 2006. The latter is 'La Pente' and is on the a-side. There might be something that we could a drone, played on an organ, but the bad pressing prevents from getting a good opinion on it. Unless of course there is some added value in the distorted vinyl sounds and its simply part of the piece. The other side is something entirely different. Here we have Franklin playing flutes along naively played casio tunes. Apparently this song was recorded in 1999 and given to the people of Lexi Disques on cassette which got lost later on. A sweet, child like melody and here the quality of the vinyl seems better (so perhaps its intended as it is on the other side?). Charming little music and I must admit I like the b-side much better than the other side. If you like Sack & Blumm, you may like this too. (FdW)
Address: http://www.lexidisques.net/

 

CARESS OF MY FIST - ETUDES IN VIOLENCE (CDR by Cohort Records)
Caress of my Fist is a project of Michael Khoury (violin) and Fred Bergman (sax and flute). In the eight improvisations on this CDR they are either assisted by by Curtis Glatter (percussion) or by Chris Riggs (guitar). Khoury I remember from some release on Public Eyesore, the others are new to me. Bergman worked with several Motown acts and many wedding bands, but also with the famous improvisor Jack Wright. Curtis Glatter is related to the Trummerflora Collective. Riggs is a very unconventional guitarplayer who plays with many improvisors but a deathmetal group as well. So many influences and experiences come together here. They meet here on a highly abstract level of improvised music. It sounds like chamber music. A friendly atmosphere prevails, although the title suggests something else. All four of them are advanced improvisors and players. They leave room for another and really listen. So great interplay and very communicative music is the result. Excellent, skillful work, except that it is very abstract music. For me this music works best when it is happening before my eyes, so that it is easier to become part of it. I,m a little dubious about releasing this music on CD. Also because there is so much improvised music around released on CD, etc. On the other hand, all this may be the case, but I did really enjoy listening to this one. So I hope this one will find its way to the lovers of improvised chambermusic. (Dolf Mulder) Address: http://cohortrecords.oatch.com

 

99 DREAMS - WINNING ON ALL FRONTS (CDR by Ninetyninecentdreams)
99 Dreams was formed in 2007 in Brooklyn by drummer Matt Crane and saxophonist, synthplayer Adam Diller. The produce a crossover between free jazz and hip hop, building their music from layers of live overdubs using drums, analog synth, horn, strings and percussion. 'Winning on all Fronts' is their third EP. They have a clear concept about what they are doing, and it works. Free powerful saxplaying with a strong stripped down rhythmic base by drums and electronics. An effective contrast. In tracks like 'Rockland Psych Ward' and 'Wagering Information' they produce very penetrating electronic sounds, which is surely a quality of this duo. The structure of the pieces is not mindblowing: very linear, not culminating in a climax or the opposite. But because they keep things simple in a way, one cannot be confused about the point they are making. (Dolf Mulder) Address: http://www.ninetyninecentdreams.com/

 

DECONTROL COMMITTEE - DECONTROL COMMITTEE (CDR by Deconcom Records)
YASUJI MORIMOTO - LES PLANTES (CD by Low Speed Duplicating)
Both websites provide little information - Decontrol tops minimal information, 5 tracks of fairly continuous noise, some discernible pulses, the last track having audio clips of someone going on about thanksgiving and the vice president. For want of explanation all 5 appear though noise to be field recordings, imagine a contact mike being dragged along the ground. Les Plantes is packed in thick cardboard, again minimal information here, but maybe that's the point, should we need information to support this kind of work? Though Les Plantes when I played it again yielded more noise, less homogeneous- swathes of white noise and oscillations until it appeared to loop and glitch, but on looking at the CD player it was the disk that was performing these tricks and not the recorded material, I doubt if deliberate, a nice trick if it was - genuine in your player field playing rather than recording. But an accident - its playing OK on the computer - track 7 is quite harsh, with 9 we get someone one playing a trumpet? And others joining in with percussion and singing? - a recording of some band pictured on the disk- Mexican or south American - very odd. I could say both are interesting if a little quirky, but the general "fondness" of both left me cold and not interested that much. I get the feeling that more work needs doing- terrible thing to say on a Sunday afternoon - Lazy sunday afternoon, I've got no mind to worry, close my eyes and Drift away, Close my eyes and drift away. Here we all are sitting in a
rainbow (da ad ad do) Cor limey hallo missus Jones hows your Berts lumbago? I'll sing you a song with no words and no tune I'll sing at your party while you suss out the moon, oh yeah (jliat)
Address: http://www.deconcomrecords.com/
Address: http://www.lowspeedduplicating.com

 

JLIAT - NOW THAT'S WHAT I CALL NOISE VOL. 17 (CDR by Jliat)
JLIAT - NOW THAT'S WHAT I CALL NOISE VOL. 18 (CDR by Jliat)
JLIAT - ARGOS FRONT END 2008 (CDR by Jliat)
When the Eurovision Noise Contest was held on the 20th of last month, the UK was sadly not represented, but that was perhaps the only true contestant was further down the road in Brussels, playing at an event at Argos. This is now released on a CDR, along with two more installments of 'Now That's What I Call Noise', volume 17 and 18, of this long term conceptual project. I thought it was pretty interesting to spot those tiny differences between the studio approach and the live approach of Jliat, as I don't recall hearing his music live. Still the pieces on volume 17 and 18 are 8 per CD and still last 3.59-4:01 per track. The liner notes from the live CDR also tell us something about these studio works: using samples from Merzbow CDs which are played through guitar effects and distortion until the original is lost. Perhaps a bit like Merzbow does with acoustic objects in the past, and these days also with playing loops of 'other' music. It perhaps also makes clear why Jliat wants to release so many in this series, to out do Merzbow, perhaps? Or perhaps make a similar point as Merzbow (whose intention it is to release more than Sun Ra). Between these two, and the previous 16 releases, there isn't that much difference, although I seemed to like 18 more than 17. Maybe I am getting blurred after so much noise at the same time.
In concert his music sounds equally extreme, but with a 'lot' more variation - although I must stress out that these differences are quite small. This release has a lot of interesting 'liner notes' explaining what Jliat does and how it worked in the concert situation. The CD has an 'extra' part which contains the images used in the concert, which in one contains highly psychedelic, colored naked ladies in still images and in the second images of 'war' (a previous interest of Jliat) and random images from the world wide web. I won't go into detail of rewriting the liner notes (at the risk of miswriting of course), but its nice to see at what various angles he arrives to get there - and perhaps also for those who fail to understand his writing for these pages this is a good starting point. The music seems to be going up and down more, but whereas on the studio releases it moves between 99-100, it might be here 97-100, if ever such scales would apply to this. I quite enjoyed this live release. I am not sure if he would have been a winner at the Eurovision noise contest, but he would have gotten quite far.
Address: http://www.jliat.com

 

MIRKO UHLIG & MARCUS OBST - THE VERTICAL HORSE LESSON (3"CDR by Ibrik)
Once I tried riding a pony - when I was 8 or so, but didn't like the stumbling very much. However I stayed on the pony, unlike Mirko Uhlig and Marcus Obst, who tried riding horses. They fell off almost right away. However, they are field recordists, and each of them stuck a small microphone in the mane of a horse and in another horse in the nostrils. These recordings are at the basis of 'The Vertical Horse Lesson', which in turn is an appetizer for a forthcoming double LP 'Any Males/Crystal Farts In The Louvre'. Within twenty minutes there are nine pieces, but I think I would rather refer to them as sketches. Short, concise pieces of unfinished drone sounds. In itself good starters for longer tracks, but which don't work as well standing by themselves. I have the feeling that this is more raw material to be used than finished compositions. However they sound delicate enough, so I can't wait to hear the double LP. (FdW)
Address: http://www.mirkouhlig.com

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