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Vital Weekly 652

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LOREN CHASSE & MICHAEL NORTHAM - THE OTOLITH (CD by The Helen Scarsdale Agency)
We haven't heard from Lorren Chasse in some time, but then all of a sudden two releases in a short time span. Following 'The Footpath' (see Vital Weekly 648), there is now a release with Michael Northam. The latter is also not very often in these pages, but over the years more than Chasse, I'd say. In each of their solo works, there is a strong interest in using field recording on one hand, and instruments on the other, such as autoharps, ouds, flutes, bells, gongs, bowed wires, harmonium and Northam's magnetic table harp. The eight pieces on this disc were recorded over a period of three years in various locations - indoor and outdoor - in the USA and Europe. It may sound a bit daft, but it's exactly what one should expect from these men: drones linger, swift, sustain, swirl, and on top we have a rather interesting blend of the instruments - and sometimes things are reversed: the starting point being the bells, gongs and flutes to which various field recordings and drones are added. This makes a nice mixture of sounds - the rumble of the wind, the rumble of the wind in the chimes and the drones from a harmonium and the drones of resonant frequencies from various electrical currents. That might sound like I am disappointed in this release, but let me assure you I am not at all. Sometimes its fine to get whatever you hoped for. Fine music, executed well, highly atmospheric and done by two masters of the genre: what more do you want? This is a very nice work indeed. (FdW) Address: http://www.helenscarsdale.com

AUTOPSIA - RADICAL MACHINES NIGHT LANDSCAPES (CD by Illuminating Technologies)
A while ago I knocked over a pile of CDs and at the bottom was 'Death Is The Mother Of Beauty' by Autopsia. One of the first CDs I ever bought. One of the great bands of the mid 80s, at least that's what I thought back then. I even used a part of one of the songs as the 'theme' for my radio show on the local squat radio. I picked it up and was trying to remember when the last time I was played this. I couldn't remember, but I decided to play it again. I remembered it was something with sampled orchestral sounds and I assumed I would it hate it now. I didn't. I played it from start till end, and really liked it, still after all these years. As you might have guessed I didn't keep up with Autopsia over the years, but much to my surprise I received a new CD. And what a strange CD it is. Again, the classical component prevails here. Heavy pastoral passages is what it begins it, and for a while seem to be the strongest component of the release, but at one point we are landed in a modern classical world, serialism perhaps and even electronics start to play a role. Then, towards the end, even a techno like rhythm comes in and I know that must sound like a strange and alienating affair, it does however makes sense. It makes great sense. I must admit that one point I had the idea of eating a large sweet cake, one that is too big and perhaps things are a bit of a cliche around here, but then I thought it is the reality of Autopsia - unchanged after so many years. Dabbling with the cliche's romantic classical music, of modern technology and current waves in popmusic, and it makes all sense. I like the pathos of Autopsia, the self-seriousness of Autopsia. One to keep and cherish every now and then, just like 'Death Is The Mother Of Beauty'. (FdW)
Address: http://www.illuminating-technologies.com

KLANGSTABIL ­ MATH & EMOTION (CD by Ant-Zen)
My first album by Klangstabil, was "Straftat gegen das leben", purchased in the Copenhagen-based record-store Baden Baden back in 1997. From this quite Industrial-based and technoid album it is quite impressive how this joint-venture project has managed to develop, founding new approaches of their musical explorations. With the previous album, "Taking nothing seriously" (Ant-Zen, 2004), Klangstabil began to focus on a quite emotional pace built on deep felt vocals from Boris May beautifully combined with grandiose soundscapes added a few doses of semi-harsh interventions, making the album nothing short of a masterpiece from the Industrial scene. Now four years later comes this follow-up from Maurizio Blanco and Boris May alias Klangstabil. The grandiosity and the melodic approach are even clearer on this new album titled "Math & Emotion" meanwhile the harsher elements are suppressed resulting in a quite listen-friendly work. A quick comparison could the dark electropop of Depeche Mode, but Klangstabil has their own unique style powered by the strong vocals combined with the duo's ability to create catchy rhythm textures and pompous synthlines. On "Math & Emotion", Klangstabil once more proves that they belong to the first class of the contemporary Industrial-scene. (Niels Mark) Address: http://www.ant-zen.com

NEBULO - AVUTMA (CD by Hymen)
Autumn has reached the North western parts of Europe. Apparently it has also reached the sound of French composer Nebulo. The yellow-red toned color of leaves and paling trees on the cover-sleeve in itself reveals the melancholic tone saturating this second full length of Nebula. The twelve pieces on the album titled "Avutma" swims in the borderlands between ambient textures and IDM with elements of clicks'n'cuts adding a little complexity to the otherwise gentle tone. Momentarily the compositions turns slightly noisier, otherwise the listener is brought safely across an ocean of comfortably drifting expressions. Beautiful. (NM)
Address: http://www.hymen-records.com

STROPS - [UNTITLED] (CD by Raubbau)
Raubau is new german label based in Berlin. Present album is the third shot from the label since its birth back in 2007. The artist of the album call himself Strops and comes from Riga, Letland. Having released three albums on Sturm Records this is his first on the Raubbau-label. The untitled album is certainly an interesting acquaintance. Based on heavy buzzing drones and pulsating rhythm textures the atmosphere on the album is isolated and a great companion for some deep listening. The work combines old school ambient-textures that reminds me of early solo works by krautrock-legend in Tangerine Dream, Edgar Froese though with a noisier Industrial approach. The strangely harsh buzzing drones are sometimes changed by more grandiose soundscapes that reminds me of the interesting project Infinite Wheel and their amazing album "Blow" (Brainiak Records, 1996). Strops has created an album that in its hypnotizing buzz drones will fascinate listeners of demanding and drifting music. Highly recommended! (Niels Mark)
Address: http://www.raubbau.org/

CHOI JOONYONG & HONG CHULKI & SACHIKO M & OTOMO YOSHIHIDE - SWEET CUTS, DISTANT CURVES (CD by Balloon & Needle)
JIN SANGTAE - EXTENSITY OF HARD DISK DRIVE (CD by Balloon & Needle)
The releases by Balloon & Needle from Seoul, Korea always look nice without being too fancy or over the top, like some others sometimes do. The releases often, but not exclusively includes the work of Choi Joonyong (CD players) and Hong Chulki (turntable, electronics), who team up with Sachiko M (sinewaves) and Otomo Yoshihide (turntable, guitar) in this concert recording of 2006, when M and Yoshihide visited Seoul. If the work of the Japanese part of this CD is in anyway familiar with you, then you know what to expect. Sachiko M's sinewaves are the very bottom, or foundation if you want of the music. Things buzz in the front, in the back, below and above, high and low, but they buzz. On top of that the three men add their own blend of cracks and cuts, from the media players at hand - what the guitar is unclear, but no doubt he fits into this in a clever way - either sounding like a sinewave or like another crack or hiss. This is a work that is great, but but but its also something that we heard before, mostly in the work of the Japanese two involved here. That perhaps makes things less of a surprise, but the total concentration involved by all four players requires full concentration on the side of the listener. Only then it will reveal its true beauty.
Jin Sangtae (who actually recorded the previous disc reviewed) worked as a part-timer on the Yong-san electronic market in 1994, and its there where he found his interest using hard disk drives and radio's as the source for his improvised music. On this CD he limits himself to using just two hard disk drives, disassembled and 'manipulating the vibration that occurs when they emit sound', all captured with a microphone, so that the space has a say too in the whole. Its not easy to imagine what Sangtae does when he plays these, but the music makes a great impression. Surely we can say that this is noise. The sound is loud but utterly 'dry', almost like acoustic noise. Rhythmic, buzzing, feedback like (but never forming a real wall of sound) and it makes the drives almost singing. Not easy noise to sink into, but highly demanding music. At the length in which it now arrives - three tracks, over fifty-five minutes - is however a bit long - almost like an endurance test. Perhaps a bit shorter would have increased the intensity a bit more. (FdW) Address: http://balloonnneedle.com

IBITSU - FOOLPROOF BETTERS FOOLS BETTERING FOOLPROOF (CD by Editions Mego)
It seems like I miss out on something here: the piece by Ibitsu took about ten years to complete and is a 'digital composition'. Somebody asked me not to refer to 'its the age thing', but I seriously doubt wether my ears are still good enough to pick up on this. A twenty-five minute of speaker rumble, sub sub sub bass and somewhere half way through high high high end sounds. 'An acid drenched take on the spirit of early Trente Oiseaux releases', Mego tells us. Ha, that's what it is. One of things people can talk about for ages in internet discussion groups I gather, and perhaps indeed has the same aural impact as Lopez' 'Warzawa Restaurant', although, when opened in an audio editor, this actually has wave forms to see - not that they are easily heard, but hey there is something there. Exactly the right length and dramatic built up. For various reasons quite an interesting release - it will shake up thought on digital music once again, and that's one of the great strengths of Editions Mego. (FdW) Address: http://www.editionsmego.com

MATS/MORGAN BAND - HEAT BEATS LIVE / MORGAN AGREN - TOURBOOK 1991-2007 (CD & DVD by Cuneiform)
A monstrous duo-release of a CD and a dvd this time, the follow up to their last studio-album dating from 2005 ('Thanks for Flying with us'). Another thrilling effort by these two exceptional swedish musicians operating at a technical level that is unbelievable. Their names are Mats Oberg and Morgan Agren, playing together since childhood. In 1988 they performed with Zappa who was greatly impressed by their skills and musicality. Afterwards Mats and Morgan started releasing CDs of their own music. Their most recent one 'Thanks for Flying with us' was the first to be released outside of Sweden and brought them in contact with a international audience. At the moment Cuneiform is also rereleasing some of their earlier albums. But for now this double release has our attention. The CD contains live recordings made between 2005 and 2007 on different locations. Although recordings were made after their album 'Thanks for Flying with us', tracks from this album are not on this live album. If you need any prove this is a true live band, here it is. The CD open impressively with 'The Return of Advokaten'. A very tight and precise exercise. The following track 'Rhinecliff Hotel' is in a jazz vein, with extensive solowork by Mats. Here like in the other jazzy, lyrical pieces their music sounds a little superfluous to me. But it is impossible not to be impressed by the musicianship by these two. It is however quite a job to sit a whole CD through in one take. Their music is of a constant high intensity and enormous energetic level. I had to take a pause from time to time. What kind of music is it? Spontaneously I would name it a kind of fusion. That's the term that fits best. Complex compositions, equally indebted to jazz as to rock music. In some of the tracks they are accompanied by basplayer Tommy Tordsson. In two other ones we hear a even bigger line up at work. Also there a few solo tracks with just Mats or Morgan. Although I'm impressed by their virtuosity and I enjoy many of the tracks, I don't feel actually moved by their music. But that is very personal. Anyway, if you can't believe what you have heard on the live CD you can look at it with your own eyes on the dvd.
The Tourbook covers a period of some 16 years. The spotlights are mainly shining on Morgan here. Implying we have to go through a lot of solo drum work by Morgan. In a non-chronological order we see 65 outtakes from different periods offering a true kaleidoscopic view on the musicianship of Morgan. Of course there are also many fragments of Mats/Morgan Band, but besides we see Morgan playing with other musicians like the fantastic Fredrik Thordendal. Sometimes in a hardcore-like style, followed by free rock exercises and what you have more. Off special interest is the Magma-tribute using original Magma-vocals taking from one of their records. Also in 'Lick my Decals' of Beefheart, Morgan and his mates do an excellent job. Although it once again proves that the voice of the Captain was one of a kind. If you still can't believe what you heard and seen on this crowded dvd, go watch them live! (Dolf Mulder)
Address: www.cuneiformrecords.com

AARDE - DESPERATE ISLANDS (CDR by Dirty Demos)
NO CONTEXT - LINES TO FOLLOW COLOUR CHANGES IN LEAVES (CDR by Contra Musik Produktion)
Adam Baker, boss of Dirty Demos, sent me two releases, one on his own label and one in which he is involved as a musician but released by Contra Musik Production, a label of which I never heard from Germany. Aarde, being the duo of Lois Laplace and Guillaume Gargaud, already surprised us in a pleasant way with 'A Whole Day' (see Vital Weekly 601) and here return with 'Desperate Islands', a shorter release then before with six pieces continuing their interest in somewhat more crude variations on glitch and micro ambient. There is guitar doodling, sturdy sound processing, a bit more louder things then before and sometimes totally in line with Line, such as 'Looking At The Coast', with its icy, glacier feel and sustained bowed sounds. Like before I think this is a really nice job, well produced and nothing much new. But as said before, sometimes that is not necessary.
No Context is a trio of Baker (also known as Dead Wood), Allan Upton (from Textured Bird Transmission) and Adrian Newton (from Nemeton, Zaum and Safehouse). There is no credit as to the instruments used, but judging from the music, I suspect that this is a laptop trio. They are not three individuals working solo and mailing results to eachother, but operate as a real band who play concerts. The ten pieces on this release were recorded during five concerts, throughout 2007. They play some really great small tunes of laptop microsound. There is a bit of drone, the rhythmic particles, the cracks and the cuts. Music that would/could have been released by Ritornell a decade ago. Stillupsteypa during that period is one reference that springs to mind. Like Aarde its not really anything new, but the cuts from various improvised concerts is a rather nice one. Perhaps a whole concert may have some hit and miss, but cut short they seem to have a keen ear on picking all the right moments. (FdW)
Address: http://www.dirtydemos.co.uk
Address: http://www.contramusikproduktion.de

MICHAEL CHOCHOLAK - ALVEROMANCY (CDR by Triple Bath)
TZESNE - LA CARNE (CDR by Triple Bath)
The name Michael Chocholak is perhaps not very well-known, despite his work in underground music for some twenty-five years. Originally a guitarist, these days he's using anything he can lay his hands on: from the guitar to the computer, from drums to glass - all of this is used to the extent of no longer being able to recognize what it is. Creating large pieces of vast and dense clouds of sound. Music that sounds very electronic, yet very organic too. You don't recognize the initial sources - its only because they are mentioned in the press text. Music like this would be called ambient industrial: its too noisy to be fully ambient and relaxing, and too ambient to pass on as real noise. This is sort of ambient (industrial, drone whatever) music that I really like. Referring to modern electronics (especially Roland Kayn), heavily processed electro-acoustic music and Germany's cosmic music (especially Conrad Schnitzler), this is music that hardly sees innovation, but in the capable hands of Chocholak its still a great miracle.
Much younger and more active in the Vital world is Tzesne from Spain, who already has a string of CDR and MP3 releases. 'La Carne' means 'meat' and has three lengthy pieces. The first one is the title piece, and then a 'reconstruction' by one Luis Marte and an additional piece, called 'Additional'. Tzesne too operates inside the world of ambient industrial, yet where Chocholak is a bit more ambient, Tzesne would be a bit more industrial, but the margins are quite small. The title piece starts out in a more heavy vein, but takes back gear and very slowly builds again. All built from what seems field recordings and lots of electronic processes. The remix seems to follow the same course, but does things a bit quicker. I am not sure if I think it was really necessary to release this piece. Its not bad, but a bit superfluous. Which perhaps also can be said of 'Additional', even when that seems to be made from just field recordings. The total is a bit long, whereas with just 'Le Carne' it would have been a fine release too, More is not always better. (FdW) Address: http://www.triplebath.gr

DARSOMBRA - NYMPHAEA (CDR by Public Guilt)
OBLONG BOX - THE 13TH FLOOR (3"CDR by Public Guilt)
The notion of remixes in the world of 'commercial' music is about getting your product known to a different kind of audience, who would normally not hear your product. In the underworld of Vital Weekly, the remix is more a hobby of keeping your friends busy. The only previous release by Darsombra, being one Brian Daniloski, we reviewed was 'Delirims & Death', a 3" CDR, although there are more releases on Public Guilt by him. Here he offers one new track which then get duly remixed by twelve friends of his, which include, name checking here, Guilty Connector, Strotter Int. and Destructo Swarmbots, and loads of people I never heard of. I guess its not an easy task to make a remix of the guitar and drum song which is like a heavy rock anthem then a microsound doodle. Max Bondi & Bleeding Heart Narrative as well as Ala Muerte add vocals to it, which I think is quite a stunt and unusual for remixes. I believe the remixers had access to the multitrack sounds as some built it around specific elements of the music whereas others simply add more effects to the original, thus not adding much news to it, like Perfect Teeth. The best pieces are those who take the original into an entirely new territory, such as Destructor Swarmbots, Max Bondi & Bleeding Heart Narrative, Guilty Connector, Magicicada, Strotter Int and Le Knell. In fact the majority does that and that's what saves this as a compilation I think. It makes a pretty varied bunch of music in the end.
Bill Henson, one half of Juhyo and owner of Housepig Records, is the man behind Oblong Box. Four tracks of what can best be described as 'dark ambient' or 'music for films of a somewhat darker nature'. Eerie synthesized sounds, lifted spoken words from films and more of these haunted/haunting tunes. Maybe a bit too short at nineteen minutes to make a full, balanced judgment about it, but these tracks are mighty ok. Nothing spectacular, nothing great, but quite delicate and made with great care for the finer sonic details. (FdW) Address: http://www.publicguilt.com

TO LIVE AND SHAVE IN L.A./HARSHCORE (3"CDR by Baskaru)
ENT - SONIC INDUCERS
(3"CDR by Baskaru)
DEAD BLACK ARMS - AWAKE FROM THE DEAD! AWAKE FROM THE DARK! (3"CDR by Baskaru)
One of those things that happen, is that I know To Live And Shave In L.A., and even heard some of their music, but somehow I can't say I am an exact connoisseur of their music. The piece they do here is one of great plunderphonic nature. A cut up of a band introduction (R.E.M.?, how would I know?), which is spliced together by blasts of noise, electronic bleeps, and towards the end their own voice material. A great take piss on the self-importance of the big rock musicians. They share this release with Italy's Harshcore, whom we reviewed before and even saw playing live with their animal masks. The starting point of their 'Sun Hidden There' is Bukowski reading his own 'Dinosauria, We', cut up eventually, added with echo. On top Harshcore improvise around with a drum loop, bass and taped sounds, until the voice disappears and they built a new piece from improvisation and allow Charles back in. Maybe a bit long for the amount of information, but its surely one of the more refined Harshcore pieces. Nice one.
ENT have released before on Baskaru, but this new release seem to be a departure from their previous work. These three pieces no longer deal with rock music as such, but with the tehnoid rhythms of dance music. But somehow I must say it doesn't work very well. If the music doesn't engage to dance to, then what remains? Heavy rhythms that make an uneasy swing, a bit of noise lurking below, but its not an entirely convincing sound. Maybe if I would hear this much louder than is possible at home, I would be perhaps be more convinced.
The last one is a new name for me. Dead Black Arms is one Claus Haxolm from Denmark, who presents a piece of drone music. Not of the subtle kind, but one of a rather louder and more abrasive kind. An organ is recorded as loud as possible, but without distortion, and then superimposed upon each other. Some sections seem to appear as loops, whereas over the whole there is an overall layer of two, three or more. Then somewhere some distortion is used, which wasn't necessarily, I'd think, but throughout I thought this was a nice piece. Crude, rough minimalist drone music. A violent Palestine! (FdW)
Address: http://www.baskaru.com

The complete Vital Weekly is available at: Vital Weekly

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