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Vital Weekly 650

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NEU GESTALT - ALTERED CARBON (CD by Alex Tronic Records)
As I had to do some business in my back room, I put this CD on without noting press text, band name etc and just listened to this CD. But since I was a bit distracted after a while, I suddenly thought: what am I hearing? I couldn't remember starting to play a CD by Silent Records from more then a decade ago. Once I moved back to the front room, I saw the jewel case of Neu Gestalt again, and remembered it. Their cover looks like a photoshop work which also remembers the covers of Silent lookalikes from back then. Behind Neu Gestalt is one Les Scott from Scotland, who dislikes almost all music before Anton Webern. He was a member of September's Room, which was a duo and then a solo album as Anti-Matter, but under his new moniker returns to ambient house with both a big A and a big H. Slow rhythms, deep synth washes, sometimes a bit abstract, dub like bass. Its a kinda of music that I don't hear much lately, although occasionally I pull out a Silent release or that excellent Meridian Dream CD, whenever sparse time allows me. Which is why I liked this release. I think a decade ago I would have put this off as too much of a copy, but these days, when not so many copyists around in this field, its almost like an original again. Maybe the early days of a new revival? Maybe the title of this release is one that says it all? (FdW)
Address: http://www.alextronicrecords.co.uk

CARLOS GIFFONI - ADULT LIFE (CD by No Fun Productions)
A HANDFUL OF DUST - NOW GODS, STAND UP FOR BASTARDS / THE PHILOSOPHICK MERCURY (2CD by No Fun Productions)
One of the few labels of whom I always look forward to the next batch of releases, No Fun Productions have one new release and one reissue on offer for autumn this time. The new album comes courtesy of Carlos Giffoni and it's a logical progression from his other recent albums (Arrogance, Eternal Noise, Zamuro). He's now officially abanonded the harsh digital sound of excellent earlier albums such as Welcome Home and arrived at his own rendition of analogue synth sound sources into a broody place all of his own. I personally find it a pity that the digital onslaught of older material is gone, especially as he showed himself to be such a master in that field, but Adult Life still holds enough on its own to surprise and delight. Different from the other recent albums is the emphasis on rhythm, which makes this almost sound like a less rigid Pan Sonic, with a basic pulse that features in all tracks making this material also sound quite melodic. It also makes it all sound slightly oldfashioned, but that shouldn't be considered a criticism as Giffoni has a deft hand to turn this into exciting material, almost making me forget his work of old.
A Handful Of Dust is the duo of Alastair Galbraith and Bruce Russell, the latter of noiserock supergroup Dead C. They've been active since 1990, but appearances both on record and live have been sporadic. This double album is a reissue of two albums that have been out of print for a long time, originally released between 1993-95 on the New Zealand label Corpus Hermeticum, run by Russell. Not only the name of that label, but also the group name (taken from a T.S. Eliot poem), the cover art and the album & track titles come from an interest in old religion, gnostic philosophy and heresy, but that's just the packaging. Although the music can sound apocalyptic at times, it's grounded in a contemporary sense of noise improvisation. As could be expected it doesn't sound dated for one minute, if this was released this year I would've believed it as well. Galbraith's use of violin has a contemporary in C. Spencer Yeh even. Actually, this could have just fooled me as being a Burning Star Core record if nobody would've tipped me off before. Most of it sounds quite well-paced, there's not so much extreme noise freakout, it's more about the mass and length of the tracks. Built on the sound of violin, guitar feedback and electronics, this might be music that's 15 years, but it holds up with the very best in the field made today. A great rediscovery. (Robert Meijer) Address: http://www.nofunproductions.com

RAPOON - OBSCURE OBJECTS OF DESIRE (CD by Vivo Records)
There was a time when I professionally listened to a lot of music by Robin Storey, also known as Rapoon. It might have been in those days that I decided, subconsciouness, that in another life I didn't need to go back to the older Rapoon, and perhaps no need either to follow whatever he was going next. Or at least for a while. Those were my considerations when I started to play the latest CD by Rapoon 'Obscure Objects Of Desire'. It took until 'Part 5 Program Memory' before I recognized the good old Rapoon sound, even mixed with some even more older zoviet*france (of which Storey was a founding member). The minimalist, rhythmic, reversed sound, the raga like strings and the echo and reverb units lined up. The four pieces before this were more ambient like excursions, with highly processed religious voices, where 'the emptiness of institutions' and 'as close as possible' do not differ too much from each other. It all culminates in 'The Emptiness Of Art (I Made That One That)', which is a twenty-six minute opus of all the Rapoon stylistic sounds: the minimalist, reversed sounds, humming, the raga like rhythms on a tabla, the delay, the reverb, the deep atmospheric mood music. It seems like this track has everything in it, again, that happened before that in the other six tracks - or perhaps I am merely hallucinating. That might also be very well possible. It brings back good memories this release. Maybe the time is right again, after a serious gap of five years, to pick up upon the old Rapoon releases and start playing them again. I have the impression that by and large not many things have changed for Rapoon and his music, but that he stumbled upon whatever he does best and decided to explore that for as long as possible. No doubt his many fans like that approach - and so that this occasional listener. (FdW) Address: http://www.vivo.pl

BROWN WING OVERDDRIVE - ESP ORGANISM (CD by Tzadik)
MIKROKNYTES - DEKAKILLE (CDR by Kavekavity)
The link between these two releases is Derek Morton. Best known, perhaps at least in these pages, as a member of Mikroknytes, who also have a new release here, but also as a member of Brown Wing Overdrive, a trio of Morton on banjo, effects, synth divination, Chuck Bettis on electronics and vocals and Mikey IQ Jones on jaw harps, percussion, objects and vocals. They live in New York where they create their chaotic free run improvised music from the world of electricity. Other than many alike, their playing doesn't deal with the instruments at hand, but the crude electronic manipulation thereof, and Brown Wing Overdrive places great interest in the use of vocals. Two vocalists which scream, shout, whisper, hum and do everything in between those extremes and cook up a highly vibrant version of improvised music, almost in a punk rock manner. Its beyond any description, this quite bizarre work. Sometimes a bit tedious, and hovering perhaps too much in too simple use of delay pedals, but then the vibrant style of their music makes up things quite nice. One of those things that leaves you a bit exhausted afterwards. But this careless wreck, this chaotic mayhem makes a nice contrast in the world usually slow improvisations.
As Mykroknytes he works together with John Coursey, and they have released a bunch of CDRs and CDs. Here a privately released CDR on their own Kavekavity label. Morton plays electronics, effects, mind control and Coursey plays violin, electronics, idea manufacturing. Their sound is one of ultimate sound processing: its hard to recognize anything in these abstract electronic sounds that can be traced back to a real instrument. Sometimes this works out in a more improvised way, sometimes in a more rhythmic way, but their main interest seems to be lying inside drone related music. Too loud to lull the listener asleep, but nice, sharp minimalist drone fields. That's where they are best I think. The nine tracks are again perhaps a bit long for what they have to offer and could perhaps be trimmed down a bit. Otherwise I thoroughly enjoyed this release. Still raw and untamed, as its predecessor 'Kaverna', but that adds a nice extra quality to the music, I think. (FdW)
Address: http://www.tzadik.com
Address: http://www.kavekavity.com

NORTHERN VALENTINE - THE DISTANCE BRINGS US CLOSER (CD by Silber Records)
ELECTRIC BIRD NOISE - LE VESTIBULE/VESTIBULE TRANSITOIRE (CDR by No More Stars)
HOTEL HOTEL - THE SAD SEA (CD by Silber Records)
SLICNATON - NOISEFLOOR (MP3)
The differences between these three and a half releases on Silber Records and related friends are small 'post rock and indie ambient' is what it says on the sticker that these promo's arrive with. Northern Valentine is a duo of Robert and Amy Brown, husband and wife. They play guitar, violin and keyboards and are active since 1997 and have six limited releases so far. Here they receive help from Jeffery Bumiller on guitar, Marc Carazo on bass and Ben Fleury-Steiner on guitar. Very much like the release by Neu Gestalt, this music is a strong reference to past musical events, the post rock meet ambient music. Lengthy sustaining sounds played on guitars and tons of effects - a bit too much on the reverb side of things if you ask me, but it certainly reaches for the dark atmospheres that bands like this want to reach. Nice but not great.
Electric Bird Noise is just one person, Brian Lea McKenzie, who plays ambient guitar for over a decade now. He offers two long pieces here on his release, in which effectively explores a few things: feedback, guitar drones and lots of sound effects - mainly the reverb and the delay. But unlike Northern Valetine, his use of those effects is much more controlled and do not play the leading part. Also his music is a bit more freaked and spaced out. Other than doing a 'pure' ambient piece of music, his music is more noise based, but not in a strict noise scene, but rather in a heavy psychedelic manner. Pleasure through pain. Not exactly a relaxing piece of music that is going on here, but throughout, I felt, better than the previous release, which however would make a perfect come down music after the Electric Bird Noise.
Whereas these two drift more into ambient music than into the world of post rock, then Hotel Hotel does it from an opposite direction. Much more post rock than ambient. The origin of the band lie in P.D. Wilder and Patrick Patterson, who toured with a drummer but who disappeared in April 2007, but new members were found and guestplayers (such as Kirk Laktas) were invited and 'The Sad Sea' is, I believe their second release. Like said, this post rock in the best Godspeed tradition. Drums, bass, space echo, guitar and violins make up the instrumental sound of Hotel Hotel. Although I could write references to the empty prairies of Texas where they hail from, they have much more a sea reference. Not a bumpy sea with lots of waves, but the calm sea, with ripples spreading and spreading. Each of the pieces start with a slow drift and then expand on that theme and like Godspeed they work towards a fine crescendo. Text book post rock, me thinks. Other than Northern Valetine who arrive at what they do through improvisation, this is much more 'composed' and worked out. Here is a band playing well tuned music. Again with nothing much new around it, but its a fine job they are playing here. Musicwise and packaging wise the best of this quartet.
Something entirely different is however Slicnaton, which is from the circle of Silber friends. Behind Slicnaton (say slick-nay-ton) us Nicholas Slaton solo, as opposed to Trio Slicnaton (see Vital Weekly 633) which saw Slaton working with various people. He plays solo electronics here, along with a no-input mixer and glitches. Lots of feedback like sounds, being the harsher version of many other no input mixing artists. The sounds he generates on the spot are looped around and from there on he creates his own fine mass of sound. Much more noisier than the other three releases here, this is best played as the first release of the four (which of course I didn't), simply because it puts you in the right mood for music that is much more subtle and subdued. Although this release was o.k., I think it would make much sense hearing this in a concert situation. With the right volume, the one that can't be achieved at home, this can surely be a true beauty but maybe gets a bit lost at home. (FdW)
Address: http://www.silbermedia.com
Address: http://www.nomorestarsrecords.com
Address: http://www.slicnaton.com/

CRISTAL - RE-UPS (LP by Flingco Sound System)
The three men behind Cristal have been around as such since 2001, but 'Re-Ups' is only their second release. The three are Jimmy Anthony, Greg Darden and Bobby Donne, the latter from Labradford and Aix Em Klemm, who play together infrequently. Cristal is, as far as I understand, a laptop trio. And the play ambient music. Well, what's new, I asked myself, and you do too probably. But I must say that I very much like what I hear - not because it sounds so 'new', but because its so delicately made, even the total noise outburst of 'Left Of Swept', which seems to be totally out of place, but which makes great sense among its four silent brothers. Its the antidote of the silent play. It probably scares off the true ambient glitch head, but its a necessary injection. The four other pieces are beautiful slow pastoral humming pieces, with a fine dramatic and intense feel to it. This is one of those things that holds nothing new under the sun, but which makes a damn listening. Great record, and I would love to hear from them. (FdW)
Address: http://www.flingcosound.com

SLEEPS IN OYSTERS - WE KEPT THE MEMORIES LOCKED AWAY LIKE THE BEETLES OF OUR CHILDHOOD, OR HOW TO APPRECIATE SOMEONE WHO'S ALWAYS AROUND (CDR by Seed Records)
We don't hand out prizes for packages - its the music that counts in Vital Weekly and we don't give prizes for that either. But if there would be a prize for packaging your release, then Seed Records would be the award winner of this week for their release by Sleeps In Oysters with that long long title. Five postcards in an envelope, the CDR in an enveloppe, sealed off by wax, and then put in a handmade fabric sleeve, complete with buttons to close it. Sleeps In Oysters are a group, well duo at least, since I hear a male and a female voice, which operate in the shady area of pop meets folk, meets electronics. The voice sounds to me a bit like Björk, but perhaps that's because I don't deal a lot of with popmusic that I find it hard to find another reference. To that they (?) add a fine blend of jumpy and bouncy rhythms, some guitar playing, a glockenspiel. Things do not always match up and that's exactly where the power of this release lies, I think. Its sufficiently strange enough to be experimental, but on the other hand it links nicely to popmusic and folk, mainly through the vocals. The music however follows nicely vocals, but when listened closely is quite strange however. What seems an uneasy marriage works out great. A highly pleasant release, not the winner of the week, but surely one of the better ones. (FdW) Address: http://www.seedrecords.co.uk

GINGER LEIGH - MERCHANT OF DEATH (CDR, private)
The believe in a just world is something I gave up on a long time ago. Music industry, to limit my rant a bit, is based upon lies and corruption (just finished Simon Napier-Bell autobiography of a few years back), and always seem to promote the wrong people. Why the hell am I reviewing yet another privately released CDR by Ginger Leigh and why the hell is not on Cold Meat Industry, Staalplaat, Cold Spring or Old Europa Cafe, to mention four labels that would suit him well? If you can release In Slaughter Natives why not the sampled mayheswainsm of Leigh? His industrial beating, orchestral interludes, ethnic percussion, hip hop rhythms, his excellent use of vocal snippets, his dark sense of humor. Perhaps its that latter thing that bothers the music industry. If 'humor' is not direct in your face, but hidden in the music, through weird samples, odd quotes and not a joke act, then they are not there. To even bother to think what it is, is too much to ask. Oh well, like I said, there is no just world. Ginger Leigh, however great I think his music, will no doubt be bound to unleash his crazy, eclectic music on privately released CDRs, reaching only for those in the know. What a pity and what a shame. Another pearl for swains. (FdW)
Address: http://www.gingerleigh.com

STEINBRUCHEL - HOME (CDR by Slaapwel Records)
Being an occasional insomniac myself, I am of course more than happy with a label called Slaapwel Records, who presents music to fall asleep to - it's a pity that I don't have any means of playing in the bedroom, and to use earplugs is of course a bit odd. One guy called Wim, who runs the label, asks artiest friends to present music that is perhaps best described as boring. Steinbrüchel duly accepted the invitation and you have thirty-three minutes to fall asleep here, well, or to take a nap on the couch. The piece is based on guitar sounds by Daisuke Miyatani, this piece is a thirty-three minute sense of decay and fade out. The guitar sounds are present at the beginning, although even then covered in the usual dust of the computer, but then slowly drifts apart in an amorphous mass of sound, guitars becoming piano like sounds, which slows down and fades out. Of course I didn't fall asleep, but then I played this in the morning after a some relatively good nights rest. Its music to get up well also. Once it has died out, one can start the day and play some more heavy music. Somehow I don't think I will try this on falling asleep with. Maybe because it doesn't seem right to do so. A work of art should be enjoyed, cherished, thought about, and not merely used to sleep by. This is a pretty nice release, best enjoyed when being awake. (FdW) Address: http://www.wixel.be/slaapwel

MAN'S LAST GREAT INVENTION - NONE (CD by Eh?)
Not much information on the release 'None' by Man's Last Great Invention, but going to their blog and myspace, one can easily learn something, such as the extensive line up of this band: Anderson Josef Reinkordt (guitar), Topher Ware (keys), Jillian Savage (cello), Jon McQuillan (bass), Elisabeth Reinkordt (film projection), Luke "ande will always spell wrong" Polipnik (rhythms), Jason Buckner (korg, singing bowl), Mathias Svalina (the howl of wolves), Michael Hernandez-Stern (birds and sounds), Predator (rarr), Tom Currie (bass, guitar), Chris, the magician, Lavaque (drums, soundscapes), Nick Kuhl (yes! more drums!), Teal Gardner (sing sing), Anders Peterson (percuss) and Jim Schroeder (guitar). This is free form freak folk at its best. Lengthy improvisations on guitar, the oh-ah (endless sustain required) vocals, and drone like sounds that bubble under the sea here. I read an online review of this saying we should not complain that this is too long (seventy minutes), but I think its all a bit too much, perhaps simply for the fact that there is not enough difference between the various pieces. Maybe with all the right hallucinating substances that both playing and hearing this kind of music requires, its a long and flowing trip into the world of subconsciousness, but if I would give in to every musical invitation to take drugs, I'd be in rehab and then there is no Vital Weekly. So I skip the drugs (on a daily routine) and think with this: great music, but for the amount of variation (or the lack thereof), a bit too long (at least twenty or so minutes). (FdW)
Address: http://www.publiceyesore.com

SUBMATUKANA (CDR by Turbinacarpus Records)
'Sound is our structure, movement our main component' says Submatukana on the cover of their self-titled release. Its a duo of Igor Yalivetz and Yuri Kupriyanov, who use some computer, kaos pad, electric guitar to create music that relies heavily on the rhythms. Rhythms that are borrowed from the world techno, but fed through sound effects which add an industrial feel to the music. This is music in which the rhythm is the glue of the music and everything else is ornament. This is not music that you can easily dance too. Also its not always structured as promised on the cover. A piece like 'EX 003' for instance derails easily in an extensive use of the kaos pad. But throughout its pretty tight music. I am reminded of some latter day Esplendor Geometrico, with whom they seem to share a similar interest in harsh rhythm combined with piercing noise, but still remaining to sound pretty accessible. Maybe a bit long in total, and maybe some of the pieces are a bit long in itself, but otherwise a pretty fine release. (FdW)
Address: http://www.turbinicarpus.net.au

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