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Vital Weekly 648

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CHRISTINE SEHNAOUI & MICHEAL WAISVISZ - SHORTWAVE (CD by Al Maslakh)
STEPHANE RIVES - MUCH REMAINS TO BE HEARD (CD by Al Maslakh)
Maybe this is not so recent as it seems, but the liner notes are written in the present tense: "Micheal Waisvisz is a key figure in the live electronics scene', which is true, but Waisvisz died in June of this year. However what is correct is that Waisvisz never released much of his music. On top of my head I only know a LP from the mid to late seventies. Here he plays 'the hands', one of his better known inventions of live sampling and by stretching his arms and hands he could alter the sound. He teams up for 'Shortwave' with Christine Sehnaoui who plays alto saxophone. There are six pieces of lively and wild improvisation. Sehnaoui's saxophone bends in all sorts of directions, while Waisvisz bends things a bit further all the time. Totally free play among these two, and most of the times its hard to hear who is doing what, or one hears sounds that aren't easy to understand (is that voice? I noted down). Quite energetic and wild, but there are also moments of introspection, relaxing and a gentle flow. These moments are rare, but provide a fine counterpoint in all the mayhem going on here. Quite fascinating, and quite an attack on the senses.
The soprano saxophone, as played by Stephane Rives, is the one and only instrument of 'Much Remains To Be Heard', although perhaps the word 'How' misses at the beginning? If the previous wasn't 'easy', this one makes things even more difficult for the listener. Rives uses concentrated blocks of his playing, and cut these with some total silence in between. Over the course of one hour he gradually, dramatically changes his playing and things get really loud at somewhere at the forty-five minute point, when blocks are also longer, much longer. The pause between the pieces seems random. I thought this CD was quite an endurance test. Radical, almost feedback like sounds. Concentrated, but also a bit too difficult to hear. I like a good concept, but I also love a good piece of music. (FdW) Address: http://www.almaslakh.org

 

DRONE LEBANON / WERTHAM - ROMA & YERUSHALAYIM (CD by Topheth Prophet)
UR - TRIEB (CD by Topheth Prophet)
Two new albums from Topheth Prophet have been launched and once again it is seriously interesting materials that has been sent from the Israeli label. First album reviewed, belongs to some of the most interesting noise/power electronics heard for quite a while. Being a split CD, the album titled "Roma & Yerushalayim" presents two interesting artists from the power electronics scene, Israeli artist Drone Lebanon and Italian artist Wertham. Opening with Drone Lebanon, the opening track sends the listener into religious atmospheres of ritual chant. Shortly after religious act is being overwhelmed by crushing waves of destructive electronics wiping out any sign of musical tone. The combination of Middle-Eastern music culture and crushing symphonies is extremely effective. As the album develops, Drone Lebanon makes a slight change into more technoid sound worlds with the piece titled "Self hating jew" that reminds of early Wumpscut added some excellent black metal-sounding distorted vocals of Drone Lebanon. Other moments of Drone Lebanon takes the listener into ambient atmospheres, though don't expect any sonic tranquillity from this guy. Second artist on the split album, Wertham, opens his part of the apocalyptic show with a sweet children's choir, soon after completely destroyed by hordes of high frequency noise. The first piece from Wertham is a long epic piece of ambient noise, consisting of eastern chants, expressive noise moments, distant voices and buzz-drones. Though circulating in the same stylish spheres Wertham is slightly more subdued compared to the harsh sounds of Drone Lebanon. Though both artists should appeal to all listeners of grinding music. Next album from the Tropheth Prohpet label presents the Italian collaborative project, consisting of Federico Esposito and Mauro Sciaccaluga, that both originates from the hardcore punk-scene. In the UR-project, the two composers move into more introvert sound spheres of claustrophobic ambient noise. Containing four lengthy pieces of dark compositions, the expression is first of all built on thick drones that emerge from a combination of subdued noises, distant sounds of voices and industrial sounds. The atmosphere is apocalyptic and dark, with a psychedelic touch that sometimes reminds of earliest Pink Floyd thanks to the frequent use of distorted guitars and acid-like electronic soundscapes, especially on the final track "Happy hour (abattoir lounge)". Where the first reviewed split-album was extremely upfront in style, this album demands for more deeply listening. (Niels Mark)
Address: http://www.topheth.org

 

AUTON - ANY WHERE OUT OF THE WORLD (CD by Structures Sonores)
Swedish trio Auton is also a new name for me, and I am listening to this right after the Santiago Latorre CD (see above) and its in some way alike. Or let's say it fits the time of the day. Auton is Douglas Holmquist, Rikard Heberling and Petter Samuelson. The first two were also part of Dr. Higgins, 'a more synth driven band', but here the music is rather 'toned down', or at least that is what I'm told, since I never heard Mr. Higgins. But playing this mood music for late evenings tells me I am right. There is piano, voices, percussive instruments (marimba? xylophone? - that sort of thing), a bass. A bit of jazz, improvisation, a bit of Gastr Del Sol, a bit of easy music. If in years to come, he will release nothing else, then he surely has a master piece released by Auton. Says Viktor Sjoberg, the head honcho of Structures Sonores, and I don't agree. This is surely a very nice CD, very easy and great music for the later part of the evening, but its also a bit too fragmented, too much composed from loose ends, and maybe not as worked out as it could have been. Nothing wrong with that sketch like approach, but perhaps not the master piece. Yet. Maybe I'm wrong. Time will tell me, no doubt. (FdW)
Address: http://www.structuressonores.com/label

 

JOEL STERN - OBJECTS.MASKS.PROPS (CD by Naturestrip)
LOREN CHASSE - THE FOOTPATH (CD by Naturestrip)
Back in Australia for some time, or perhaps not. Joel Stern might be one of those nomad souls, wondering or wandering the planet and listening to what it might sound like, the world. Stern lived for a while in London where he was part of a young, lively scene of improvisers and field recordists. This CD can be seen as a culmination of work executed between 2001 and 2008 in a variety of places and with a variety of sounds. There is pipes, car radios, bulbul tarang, no input mixer, megaphone, pocket trumpet, doors and many more. Recorded in Lali Bela, Gonder, Ipswich, Brisbane, Pushkar, Luang Prabang and many more. Yet this all sounds remarkable coherent. At times you could all to easily think it's just a bunch of field recordings picked up by some shabby microphones, or transmitted through the radio, but then all of a sudden, you realize this somebody who is playing the music. A melody or an instrument pops out. Music! Music rather than 'just' field recordings. Music in which the field recordings play an important, but not an all important role. The voices of far and wide are carefully placed in the music, music is played like it part of the field recordings, and music that is perhaps played 'outside', all carefully constructed, selected and edited to make this excellent release.
Although I know the name Loren Chasse for a long time, and even reviewed some of his music before, the man and his work always seem 'closed' to me. Chasse, who is also a member of Blithe Sons, Thuja, Jeweled Antler and Softwar among others, uses natural elements to create his music. Stones have a great interest to him, and also wind, leaves, sand, mud. The origin of 'The Footpath' lies in walking on a footpath on Mount Tamalpais and Russian Ridge Space Reserve and in 'Arbor Pores' the Black Rock Park. Both paths lead to multiple pieces, although one could easily say that's impossible to hear, which is what. More like Stern, this is the work of field recording, even when one part of 'Footpath Apparitions' has some guitar and percussion like sounds. It seems to me that sounds are altered and processed afterwards to create a highly minimal sparse field (excuse the pun) of sound. No matter how much I like it, it still sounds 'closed' to me. I find it hard to say what it is that Chasse is after, or perhaps I think there is an element of hippyness in his music which I find hard(er) to cope with. If I remove all of that, and take the music face value, I quite enjoy the simplicity of both the action and the sound. Quite alright that is! (FdW)
Address: http://www.naturestrip.com

 

DEFICIT DES ANNEES ANTERIEURES - ACTION AND JAPANESE DEMONSTRATION (CD by Fractal Records)
First of all a slight warning; I am a big DDAA-fan and I have quite a collection of their 40+ releases, so it isn't easy to be fully objective about this, the first-ever reissue of their first album. Still, receiving a copy of this did make me go back and sit down and listen very carefully to the music again. First a little history for our younger audience. Deficit des Annees Anterieures or, in abbreviated form, DDAA; are one of the biggest names in experimental/industrial music. Formed by three artschool students (Jean-Luc André, Sylvie Martineau-Fée, Jean-Philippe Fée) in 1975, they are (amazingly enough) still active today, which I guess makes them the Rolling Stones of experimental music. However, in direct contrast with the Stones, DDAA have managed to remain a highly original sound unit over all these years. As new albums by DDAA are far and between (their last album was released a couple of years ago), this reissue of their first album from 1982 is most welcome. Originally privately released on their own Illusion label (who were also responsible for a plethora of vinyl and cassettes often in amazing complex handmade packaging), reading the sleeve notes to this can be slightly confusing. There is a lot of semi-intellectual talk of the Japanese Nebule, which is interesting and fun, but it isn't always clear how this relates to the music. Leaning heavily on traditional theorism (hence the title) and DDAA's imaginary travels to Japan, the music could best be described as somewhere between the Residents and a traditional Japanese band. Semi-acoustic string instruments are plucked and treated, there are trebly guitar intermissions and vocal chants with lots of room for improvisation and collages. This leads to naïve-sounding structures, but listening to the music is still strangely entertaining and rewarding. The full original LP is reproduced here with the original Musique et Bruits du Bas Pa-Tat tape (7 tracks dating from 1985 and much in the same vein as AAJD) as a welcome bonus. There are two further bonus tracks from the original sessions. Despite the fact that the cover is printed on somewhat flimsy material and my CD came without any protective inner sleeve, this is, for once, truly an essential reissue by one of the most original bands in the experimental/industrial DIY genre. If you don't have the original vinyl, there is no longer an excuse for not having the music in your collection. As an aside; YouTube currently lists some interesting mid 80's videos by DDAA. (Freek Kinkelaar)
Address: http://www.fractal-records.com

 

AUN & ALLSEITS - IRRLICHT (CD by Oral)
The original idea was to use only a harmonica and call the album Harmonica. But it was a bit more so, and with the idea of krautrock in their mind they called the album 'Irrlicht', in reference to Herr Schulze. The starting point was still harmonica, but in addition to that Aun plays guitar, electronics and Allseits guitar, voice, electronics. Aun is Montreal based Martin Dumais, who already released work on Oral before. This is his first album in a series of collaborations Behind Allseits is one Nina Kernicke, from Bremen (Germany). Their concerts seem to be loud but the work at hand here is rather subdued and drone based, occasionally bursting out into more heavy ground. The Klaus Schulze references are never far away, even when Aun and Allseits stay in a much more abstract ground. The cosmos is not the blue sky, but the infinite and dark space that lies much further away. Spacious (oops there we go again) dark atmospheric music along the lines of Thomas Koner and more over Troum (with whom Allseits something collaborates). A dark sun, underwhich its hard to re-invent the tones, but where Aun and Allseits do a damn fine job. (FdW)
Address: http://www.oral.qc.ca

 

DANIEL MENCHE & ZBIGNIEW KARKOWSKI - UNLEASH (CD by Alien8 Recordings)
Right now, I feel tired. Lots of things on my mind, lots of things to do. Yet I decided to play Daniel Menche and Zbigniew Karkowski's first collaboration again. Perhaps the noise bath will refresh me. Who knows. These two heavy weights of the noise scene since long have worked together for the first time, and this 'version' is the mixed version by Daniel Menche - the one mixed by Karkwoski will be released later on. Its the economy, stupid. The music, one track, divided over six cuts for 'easy listening', is exactly what such a package would promise. Menche's recent interest in slow, pulsating sounds, sometimes finding their origin drum sounds and Karkowski wall of digital noise make a perfect pairing on this release. Electronic sounds spark of like electrical currents in a big machine hall - the epicentre of all things electric. The electricity farm, the howl of machines in dying agony, the pleasure of aural pain, but with lots of clarity and keen eye for the detail - not just a blast, but a controlled attack, with lots of smaller events riding on the wave. Nothing new under the mighty noise sun, that pitched black shining star, but its something that true noise heads will love, and after a long and tiring day of doing all sorts of small things, this is the sort of ear cleaning, mind shattering kind of release that is necessary to get vital and lively again. Noise may be a dead end, but sometimes its alive and kicking brutally hard. (FdW)
Address: http://www.alien8recordings.com

 

B*TONG - STRUCTURES (CD by Noecho)
TBH - BOOK OF SALMS (CDR by Noecho)
Music by B*Tong has been reviewed before, but when? The search engine has some difficulty, but as far as I can remember they were all on CDR. This might very well be his first real CD. B*Tong is originally from Sweden, but now lives in Basel and was once part of the duo NID. 'Structures' is inspired by a trip to Jukkaskarvi's ice palace in Sweden, although I don't believe this release deals with field recordings. Both music and inspiration recalls very much the work of the earliest works of Thomas Koner: icy fields of music, stale cold wind on your body, the mood is dark. Humming slowly, played on, perhaps, a bunch of analogue synthesizers and lots of sound effects. Perfect Isolationist drone music. There is never anything new under the ambient sun, it seems, but what B*Tong does here, can easily match his previous work - no, let me correct that: this is his best work to date. For all fans of Brian Eno, Thomas Koner, Biosphere and Troum: this is the new name to watch out for.
On the same label, but taking the format of a CDR, is tBH, a duo of one Kris Klubo and Tim Shireman, both former members of The Brainhole, am industrial/electronic outfit of whom I never heard. tBH started in 2007 and their music seems to be made during late night jam sessions. I am less enthusiastic about this than about B*Tong (so is the label, perhaps, otherwise they would have been granted a CD too?). The music is quite faceless and directionless electronics, which seem to have neither head nor tail. Five tracks spanning some twenty-five minutes, but I couldn't get much joy out of it. Not really bad, but what is that they want, I thought. There is much room for improvement. (FdW) Address: http://www.noechorecords.com

 

PICK UP - LOOP END (LP by Plinkity Plonk))
Frans de Waard's fascination with that most popular of instruments the guitar is well-known. In the 90s he used the guitar as sole source of sound in his project Shifts. This despite the fact that De Waard couldn't play the guitar in a traditional way to save his life. Shifts was therefore all about guitar-treatments. This resulted in a couple of albums, some really good (Trees/Leaves), some not that good (Pangea). After the demise (or should that be possible demise as De Waard leaves his Shifts-options open) of Shifts, De Waard has now formed another guitar-outfit. This one is called Pick Up (the name for the elements - copper wound spools - on the electric guitar, which transfer the vibration of the strings into sound). However, in Pick Up it is not De Waard who plays the guitar, he is responsible for the computer treatments of the sound, which is what he does best. The guitar itself is played by guitarist extraordinaire Martijn Luiten, who is an accomplished guitarist of the Japanese Makaboto/Haino-school, not afraid to improvise and make a structured noise. So what does the combination of these two spirits sound like? The album Loose End features 5 tracks. Side one starts with 'Row', a one-note droney opener with subtle treatments that gradually become more prominent. 'Cone' is quite different as here the guitar playing is more recognizable, loose tones are picked and string-scraping sounds can be heard. The open nature of the track allows the music to breathe more than the opening track. Side two hits off with 'Portal', which is my favorite track. We are treated to gated guitar chord playing, subtle and friendly. 'Assignment' is next. Easily the noisiest track of the album, but somehow also relaxed enough not to raise the pulse too much. The end fade is rather abrupt, which is one of the things I don't like. Closing track 'Loop Ends' (not the title track of course, that should have been 'Loop End') is another favorite. Here Luiten plays the E-bow, a wonderful but difficult to play properly device that creates long, droney sounds on the guitar, combined with gentle finger picking, this is a fine ending of a fine album. Packed between two grey carton bits and with only the image of a package of guitar strings on the front (cleverly altered of course to read the title and the catalogue number), the package is as downbeat and minimal as the music. Personally (and knowing Frans de Waard's love of DIY minimalism) that is fine with me, but somehow a splash more spendour in the packaging would have been a bonus. The music does deserve that. Loose End is one of those albums that is destined to sell out its 160 copies without any problem and then fade into obscurity. Until one day, when it will be re-discovered as a classic and you will tear your hair out for not buying a copy when you had the chance. (Freek Kinkelaar) Address: http://www.kormplastics.nl

 

PINKO COMMUNOIDS - VOLUME ONE (CDR by Inharmonik)
From Charlottesville in Virginia hails this trio
of Carey Sargent, Kevin Parks and Wendy Hsu. They play conventional instruments (guitars, accordions, percussion, found objects, circuits, microphones, electronics) in an unconventional manner, using 'free and structured improvisation', which sometimes is quite loud, earpiercing loud that is, but which can be gentle and soft too. They exist since 2006 and played thirty concerts, including ones in Taiwan. In the rehearsal space they recorded the three tracks that are now captured on 'Volume One', their first release, directed to two track and with no edits. It seems to me that per piece they use a limited amount of sounds, which they explore to the top. Bend it, rub it, hit it, softly, hard, barely, use a ventilator, sticks or just your hands. I think it works best when they have their material flowing gentle and soft, and let the sound explore itself as it were, rather than the somewhat louder parts, which are nice, but could have been better if they would use the space somewhere. It stays a bit flat here. But that's mainly in the second piece 'Gust'. The closing and longest piece 'Dusk' in which sounds are explored best in a calm and slowly unfolding manner. Quite a nice one this. (FdW) Address: http://www.pinkos.info

 

DAVID DANIELL - LOS JACINTOS (CDR by Antiopic)
DAVID DANIELL - THE HIDEOUT (CDR by Antiopic)
Almost six years ago I reviewed 'Sem' by David Daniell (Vital Weekly 356), the guitarist of San Augustin on Antiopic, which seems to be his own label. His name popped up an odd compilation and in the announcement section, but nothing new was heard by him. Now he returns with two releases on his own label, as part of the 'Live Series'. He still plays the guitar, but no doubt with either lots of electronics or computer processing. The press text tells us about blues inspired free music, but its something I don't hear very well. 'Los Jacintos' was recorded in Spain. Following a ten minute introduction organ like play, there is the guitar is glory. Quick finger picking (ok, some blues perhaps), feeding through delay machines. This fades over into a more drone oriented phase which concludes the piece.
'The Hideout' is of similar length and recorded in Chicago, in a place of the same name. It moves along similar lines, drones, lots of effects, fingerpicking guitar (acoustic it seems here), but the playing here seems a bit more tighter, more connected to eachother, with a finer balance between the electronics and the 'real' playing, which towards the very end sounds like Jim O'Rourke or John Fahey. Throughout a more concentrated piece of music, where the different parts make a better flow into eachother, than the somewhat more free form of 'Los Jacintos'. Both discs however provide a fine look at his live work, and surely both of them made me curious to hear his new studio work. Its about time. (FdW)
Address: http://www.antiopic.com

 

METATRONICS - METATRONICS: THRONE OF FOG (CDR by Scissor Death)
PSYCHEDELIC GUITAR ORCHESTRA - RAINBOW SABBATH (CDR by Scissor Death)
Nick Hoffman is the man behind Katchmare, Back Magic, Bumbrella Donkey and also responsible for the Scissor Death label. Together with Hank Hofler (also known as Oh Astro and Illegal Art) he is the duo called Metatronics. They are a laptop electronics duo and started out in 2005, and although 'performances began to decline after they were ejected from a local coffee shop', this is a live recording from November last year. Three pieces, one solo by Hoffman, one solo by Hofler and one, curious enough the shortest, a duo piece. Listening to the two solo pieces I can see why they play together. They share an interest in highly abstract electronics, with as a difference that Hoffman is the man for continuos sounds whereas Hofler has more broken up, collated sounds. His piece is perhaps a bit more structured, but Hoffman tends to go from loud to silent and plays the dynamic card more. Hofler takes the lead with the microtonal sounds in the duo piece, showing more fascination for Asmus Tietchens, but the sustaining sounds from Hoffman gradually take over.
In an edition of 25 copies only, but with a much, much nicer cover is the Psychedelic Guitar Orchestra, who played three times so far, with 21, 17 and 10 members for the gig. However on 'Rainbow Sabbath' its Nick Hoffman, him again, solo playing all the guitar parts (although not specified how many guitars are used per track). Apparently Terry Riley inspired the title, and if you hear the music you can imagine why this is. Repetitive guitar strumming, mixed with pieces played with e-bow or violin bows. A pretty neat, non-noise release of minimalist music. It doesn't always work out fine, such as in the somewhat long '3 Drops In A Shallow Pool', but for the other seven tracks, which are much more concise and to the point, are much more enjoyable. The combination of strumming, picking and droning make this into the best release I heard coming out of the house of Hoffman. (FdW) Address: <bumbrelladonkey@hotmail.com>

 

CONE - MASSIMO (3"CDR by Field Muzick)
DORNINGER - LOOPED NATURE AND MACHINES (3"CDR by Field Muzick)
In the ongoing series of 3"CDRs on Field Muzick two new releases. The first is by Cone, one Hermann Blaupunkt, a guitarist from Lupu Negru and owner of the Studio Casa Cassette. Despite his German sounding name he is from The Netherlands. He recorded a bunch of sounds in Sicily (also the home of Massimo, the erstwhile noise glitch artist - where ever he is now?), which he combined with his guitar playing back in his studio in Eindhoven. Repetitive sounds played on the six strings, while adding nice field recordings from a theatre, a train and the beach. The field recordings play a small role here, but they certainly add a nice element to the bittersweet guitar melodies. A whole album would perhaps be too much, but this is a sweet appetizer.
Wolfgang 'Fadi' Dorninger has been active since the early nineties, starting out with a cassette label called Die Ind. He has also produced videos for Austrian bands like Monochrome Bleu, Josef K Noyce, Wipe Out and others. For this release he uses just field recordings, placing his microphone on such a place where it captures nature and technology - bird and cars passing, electrical currents and rain - that sort of thing. of the five tracks, four were recorded in one place and in one tracks two recordings are played at the same time. Sometimes he uses some processing, although its a bit unclear what this actually is. The outcome however is quite nice. The slight electric current (processing?) in some of this and the choice of sounds show that Dorninger is a man with some fine ears to the ground and offering some highly interesting field recordings. (FdW) Address: http://fieldmuzick.net

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