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Vital Weekly 656

img  Tobias

After a long strings of MP3 and CDR releases, which showed a constant improving of his playing, Miguel A Garcia made the big step and now releases his first real CD. He worked first as Xedh, but also as several projects I never heard of such as Baba Llaga and Valvula Antirretorno. Here he uses strictly 'a mixer with a pair of microphones, which register its 'human activity' and the sine waves extracted from a simple oscillator'. That might be hard to believe I think. One thing that can be noted here is that the conversion to entirely being microsound didn't happen, and that's a great thing. Garcia started out in the more noise end of the musical spectrum, and then slowly worked his way towards microsound. Here on 'Armiarmak' he seems to be interested in melting the two opposites together, and he succeeds rather well. Despite the fact that this album has many 'soft' spots where the music drops in volume quite a bit, there are also many instances were the sound gets quite loud. Garcia seems to be introducing here also the element of improvisation (perhaps already present before, but now more clearer), and his electro-acoustic music, spiced with lots of processed sine waves (making them very high or very low end), gives us some highly refined pieces of micro- and macrosound. Its probably a great step for Garcia to go to real CDs but this first one is surely also a great step for him as a composer.
I never heard of Baseline, also from Bilbao in the active lands of Basque country, but she seems to be skipping the whole notion of releasing CDRs and MP3s (or perhaps I never encountered those) and goes straight to a real CD. She works with 'glitchs, field recordings, sounds of synthesis... she manipulates loops and sound fragments to make dense and heavy compositions', but here I'm less enthusiastic for what's on offer. Baseline creates three long pieces of indeed field recordings, glitch sounds, but also lots of synth-synthesis, which in 'Dentro' results in some heavy deep ambient with a pulsating beat, but sounds somehow quite retro. Its the least interesting piece here. 'Publico' with a variety of street sounds is better, but not great either. 'Escuchando', the second and shortest piece, is not bad either, but the 'gothic' undercurrent in her music doesn't work for me very well. Its all OK, but not great. (FdW) Address:


Side by side at the piano - that reminds me of that dreadful song McCartney once recorded with herr Wonder, but thank god in the future I will also be reminded of Taylor Deupree and Kenneth Kirschner. On May 9 of this year they sat side by side at the grand piano - each played the piano, each transforming the sound: Deupree the inside of the piano and Kirschner the keys. On top they played the piano. The interesting thing of course here is the fact that this is a live recording. This means more notes per minute. Whereas in the studio of them (solo), sparseness is one of the greater virtues and sometimes nothing much seems to be happening - and this I mean in a positive way - things here are much more 'lively' with more 'action'. Having said that, this is of course not an album of 'fast' music, or 'noise'. It still has that fine trademark of both Deupree and Kirschner: lots of sound moving into free space, with minimalist changes - but the changes occur quicker than before. Great weightless space music - sparse tones, humming drones, this is an excellent work of microsound meets improv meets minimalism.
Something entirely different is the album by DNE, also known as Eugene Carchesio, who recorded '47 Songs Humans Shouldn't Sing' in 1987, but when he scraped together the money to press up 250 LPs the pressing plant when out of business and the master disappeared. Salvaged from the original cassette this now comes here. Forty-seven songs in close to thirty-two minutes. Some of these pieces last for mere seconds. Mostly made of acoustic sources, like guitar, saxophones and drums, this is truly strange record. For what it is? Jazz? Well, perhaps, to some extent. Improv? Surely. Post-punk weirdness? Also. No Wave then? That too. The name of that 'other' Eugene, Chadbourne, is mentioned in the press blurb, and that's also a strong reference. A record that is, so to say, hard to pin down. That's a great power of it, but also, to be honest, in all this briefness its hard to pin a track down, or various tracks. Things happen so fast, that it leaves quite a fragmentary impression. When there is something that you really like, its broken down again and torn up. That perhaps is the downside of such weirdness. Otherwise, the weirdness itself is great. (FdW) Address:


Last week I saw Ensemble Integrales perform a live soundtrack with Augsburger Tafelconfect to Walter Ruttman's 1928 film 'Berlin' and got these two items handed. Guitarist Sascha Demand from the ensemble teams up with Hannes Wienert, who handles soprano saxophone, trumpet, trumpsax, sheng and tubes here on a CD that holds eightteen tracks in thirty minutes. I am not sure why they are so short, but it makes great sense. Each of the pieces seem to explore their own sound world within the miniature frame. The table top guitar, and the various wind instruments merge together most of the times, and its hard to tell which instrument does what here. Sometimes they drift wide apart and each is on his own. And then things are over, and things start again. Nothing lasts more than its supposed to be, which is the greatest thing about it: a fine quality that is: knowing when to stop. Excellent CD, not just for those who love improvisation, but also for those who love electro-acoustic and acousmatic music.
Augsburger Tafelconfect (Jürgen Hall on synths and Sebastian Reier on electric guitar) did a 7" with the help of Andrew Sharpley (sampler, wet computer) and Mauro Pawlowski (electric guitar) which was produced by Brain Emo (great!). Its a risky affair, to produce a 7" at 45 RPM with improvised music. But they manage to get away with it, through three short pieces, which one could say work as 'songs', albeit of course of a more improvised nature. Elements of rhythm leak through, especially in 'Tastes Maaloxan', which has a vague jazzy feel (fake jazz?) and ends nicely in a lockgroove. Great effort, this one. (FdW)


One morning this week I played an old 7" by Vivenza - the futurist inspired musician, who used machine like sounds. I was thinking about Vivenza and that someone told me he didn't use actual machine recordings, but a Putney synthesizer, which somehow sounded like machines. Curiously enough in the afternoon a new double CD arrived from Micheal Gendreau and Francisco Lopez. Looking at the sparse credits on the cover this seems not to be a collaborative effort, but both deliver two long pieces entirely based on their own recordings of machines in Taiwan and Malaysia (Gendreau) and Singapore, China, Taiwan and Japan (Lopez). In the first Lopez piece he comes close to the old Vivenza sound: hammering machine rhythms with lots of sound effects to transform the sound, but his other is entirely different. Very low in volume, and the sounds of the machines seem to be pushed to the background. There is a sense of rhythm to it, but it sounds quite strange. Ultimately, in fine Lopezian twist, things go up and the real machines comes in and as suddenly disappear. In the two pieces by Micheal Gendreau machine sounds play, obviously I say, a role too, but somehow he seems to be interested to create 'more music' out of it, especially in 'M928', with its organ like tones comes in and out of the piece, before it slips into silence first and then into noise. The first piece by him has a similar built-up but a different ending. Four different sides of the same coin. Excellent stuff, but I don't think I expected something else. (FdW)


NOVI_SAD - JAILBIRDS (CD by Sedimental)
The fastest rising star in the world of microsound might be Novi_Sad, being one Thanasis Kaproulias. He has a damn fine debut CD 'Misguided Heart Pulses, A Hammer, She, And The Clock' (see Vital Weekly 611), and his work has been on TouchRadio and soon a release in the 'Mort Aux Vaches' series. The attraction of his music lies, I think, in the combination of microsound and dark ambient music. There are the cracks and hisses of micro world, but also the thunderous deep ambient drones which can be top heavy, like in the opening 'Komdu! Hvert?'. Field recordings, the call of the birds, leak through here, as the deep bass dies out very slowly for the rest of duration of the song. 'Torched Estates' starts out with some nasty high pitched sounds, but throughout the pieces moves into various heights and depths, and it strikes me that this is the more complex piece of the two on this release. Many heavily processed field recordings are present, but then also sometimes naked and pure. Whereas the first is built around one theme, is the second piece more a collage of various moods and textures. Quite loud microsound altogether, and thus a strong break with tradition. Great one. (FdW) Address:


Elsewhere I write about the 'Departure Of Melancholy' compilation on Firework and I suggest its 'art' at work. That might also be the case with the work of Leif Elggren. He likes ventilation, he likes hats and ties these two together - inside and outside, two spaces communicating - to sell us a CD with sixteen tracks of ventilation recordings. The first one was already released on 'Testament' (the 5 times 7" on RRRecords), in 1991, and there are three recordings from 1987, but otherwise the recordings are from 2007 and 2008. Pure and unprocessed. Ventilation on the street mainly and mainly in Stockholm, one at a firestation in the USA. A nice set of field recordings. Beautiful recordings, and great material to work with if you plan a radioplay, an experimental DJ set, or simply want to upset any visitors. Of course there are more aspects to this, but let's leave those to the art councils who paid for this. We only have to consider this a nice one, and that we did. (FdW) Address:


LEVEL - OPALE (CD by Spekk)
Kiritchenko returns here to Spekk, following 'True Delusion' (see Vital Weekly 476), although of course Kiritchenko has released various other releases in the meantime. He set himself at work with the idea of creating something that was more acoustic than electronic, with the vague notion of jazz, in the Kiritchenko way that is. The album is built from various elements. First there is the piano playing of Kiritchenko, with some guitar parts. To add he added some percussion of his own, mainly a snare and a cymbals, but also he asked Martin Brandlmayer and Jason Kahn to play some real drums. Last but not least he added some insect field recordings from the Crimea area. Maybe the drumming is a bit jazz like, but throughout I didn't perceive this as a jazz album. But then perhaps also I didn't hear this to be a microsound album, or glitch or, well fill in whatever you think is appropriate. Its one of those albums that avoids any tags. Postrock, ambient rock, may come close, but then its hardly rock what is going on here. Very mellow music, with an excellent mixture of instruments and field recordings, and indeed to a very minimal extent an album of electronics. That perhaps is the greatest achievement of this disc, to move away so strongly from the old territory and so finely moving into a new one, or rather: expanding on the old one, and create something that may sound like the old one, but achieved with new means. Fine album indeed.
Barry G. Nicholas (which sounds like a familiar name, but I have no idea where i recognize it from, and Spekk has no additional information) works as Level. His 'Opale' was recorded 'during a period of personal turmoil, and creative turbulence', along on the piano and keyboards. The piano is played by Linden Hale (and in one instance by Keith Berry), which are sampled by Nicholas and then transformed into the eight pieces of his release. Though its certainly not a bad release, I am not jumping of ecstasy either. Nicholas uses a great amount of reverb and echo, letting the music sink down into this bath of effects which are only very occasionally well used. Certainly in the opening piece this is all a bit too much. In the other tracks he makes up quite a bit, but throughout the Eno-like textures were no more than 'pretty decent' and not 'outstandingly great'. Pretty solid ambient music, nothing special, not bad either.
Felicia Atkinson regards herself a multimedia artist rather than a full time musician, which probably explain why she wants to make a CD (a multimedia artist does all media). She recorded some basic stuff with free software, such as Garageband, which she used to record other music on top, using her voice, piano, acoustic guitar, glockenspiel and the ambiance of the room. Put together in a rather improvised mode of operation. Its the ambience of Level mixed with the acoustic sound of Kiritchenko, but with the strong addition of the voice. Short pieces (eleven in thirty minutes), singer songwriter like material (hard to say what these songs are about) of a rather intimate kind. Sparse sounds and tones, a few words, some sounds from the kitchen sink. Quite a nice release, bringing Spekk more towards the world of pop, although this will be hardly chart topping stuff. (FdW)


HUM - THE SPECTRAL SHIP (10" by Substantia Innominata/Drone Records)
OVRO - HORIZONTAL/VERTICAL (7" by Drone Records)
ARTEFACTUM - SUB ROSA (7" by Drone Records)
Lots of works from the house of Drone Records, although the first release is not by Drone but by Ewers Tonkunst but it's by the Drone Records band Troum. Inspired by the cosmology of Hildegard von Bingen, they work together here with 'basic sound sources and samples made by Reutoff', from Russia. I don't know wether its this collaboration or not, but the material sounds like it has gained a lot of more depth. The previous Troum releases always seemed a bit of a low affair, with sounds pushed together in the spectrum, but here things are much more detailed and richer, all over the sound spectrum. The guitars sound crisp and clear, its ambient and drone, but spiced up to get a lot more bite. 'Ignis Niger' has a rhythm machine to it and humming voices, which both seemed to me a first time for Troum. The rhythm even has a break/bridge between various passages, and the voices chant like mad monks. Quite a nice one this release. It expands on the concept of Troum and has some pretty strong music - always handy!
'Sing The Song Of The Unknown' is the guiding theme of the 10" series on Substantia Innominata, part of Drone Records. More ties to Russia (where Troum I believe is hugely popular) here with Hum, who is from Moscow. Two pieces, twenty some minutes in total, of dark ambient bliss. It sounds like a variety of organs sounding at the same time, mixed together with lots of sound effects, making miniature differences in the overall sound. Especially the title piece on the a-side works like this. On 'Tidal Fire' it seems as if things are pushed away, below the surface as it were. A rather subdued piece of music. This record is like two sides of the coin. The more present 'Spectral Ship' and the subdued refined piece of 'Tidal Fire'. Pressed on silver colored vinyl and still sounding great.
Slowly Drone Records goes towards the 100th release (I wonder what kind of celebration that will be, but let's hope for multiple CD set of all releases). Here, number 93 is done by Finnish Ovro, 'the wondergirl of Finnish experimental music', but here on her 7" things go out of control I thought. Both sides are highly unfocussed with 'Horizontal' having a vague rhythmic notion and 'Vertical' being built around field recordings. That one I thought was slightly better, but both tracks didn't do much for me.
From Poland hails Artefactum, and this 7" is their first vinyl release. They are, I think, a typical product of former Eastern Europe. Their music is dark, inspired by some templates from the west, and they work from there to deepen the sound, but sometimes things sound a bit lo-fi. There is some mild distortion on this record too, but throughout I thought that these pieces were quite nice, especially 'Rosa Rubea', with its more open character. Its hard to tell what they use, instruments or otherwise, but they make a fine impression.
The experimental edge of drone music comes here from Jim DeJong's The Infant Cycle project. Active since quite some time, with lots of releases on his own The Ceiling label, presenting here two older piece. The A-side was recorded in 2006, and the B-side even in 2000. He uses here a 'guitar, cookery, carved playout groove, marimba, bird cage, wind chimes, concoted field recording, electronic organ, guitar and the b-side is entirely a trombone. The title piece reminded me of the more experimental side of Richard Youngs (era 'House Music'), whilst '(And Then The Dog Replied)' is a nice piece of drone music, but much too short. The b-side is made with a trombone and called 'Trombone' and has some highly processed trombone sounds. Feeding through delay machines it seems, the sounds are cut short in itself. It reminds me of some of the releases by Experimental Intermedia, if their artists would have been on drugs (or loved noise, or vice versa). Quite a nice one this one. (FdW) Address:


Berlin is an exciting place to be, although I never considered moving there. I certainly like it, but to live in a big city is not just what I was made for. Rinus van Alebeek settled himself there, armed with his dictaphones, walkman recorders and mixing board. Van Alebeek's career started as a writer in The Netherlands (under a pseudonym which I forgot) and then turned, at a later age than most of his peers, to music, with some obscure releases by Zeromoon, but these days is the spotlight. His main interest is in creating music out of field recordings, but unlike say someone like Chris Watson, part of the Alebeek esthetic is use lo-fi equipment and deliberately add the hiss, the tape inadequacy and the low resolution as part of the music. In the centre (mitte) of Berlin he taped a whole bunch of sounds and created these eight pieces of music. These are not pieces of music that are cut out of a bigger part of unedited field recordings, but in a 'studio' set up been collated together to make well finished off pieces of music. Each tells his own story, and contains the sounds of the city. Quite a nice release altogether.


BEN OWEN/MICHAEL PISARO (3"CDR by Compost And Height)
FERRAN FAGES/BHOB RAINEY (3"CDR by Compost And Height)
The next three releases by Compost And Height are again packed along with a lump of wood - packaging makes the difference. Like the first these are all split discs of two artists. The first has a piece by Ben Owen, sitting with a radio next to a canal in Berlin, and recording that radio as well as the wind, people passing, birds and such like. A very Cageian exercise in silence, through a very planned but open score. Nice, but you can do it as well. And that's perhaps the point of it. Second on this disc is the for me unknown Michael Pisaro, who composed a piece that was to be played outdoors or that should have a field recording going along. The music is played on various instruments, such as flute, clarinet, violincello, trombone (by Radu Malfatti), guitar and stone harp. In a curious mix the instruments are quite soft and the field recording (the waterfall close by to a town) is quite loud, which makes this into a gentle piece of music with 'loud' extra noise. As said, quite curious!
Following the last review of fortnight ago of Monteiro, another piece here and its on similar conceptual length. Monteiro uses just the sound of paper, which I believe he did before. What is hard to believe is that this is just the sound of paper. It sounds like metal being played, with all the deep frequencies cut out, rotating on a turntable. A great piece of electro acoustic music. The best of this lot. Lee Patterson works with 'the timbral and tonal complexities generated by plucking selected springs'. These springs were attached to a metal plate and picked up with a contact microphone. The attack of the sound was removed and only the sound in decay were used. This piece is also great, starting out in the fields of drone music, but eventually goes into the world of electro-acoustics. A great pair of more conceptual music, but in both cases the musical element remains important.
We haven't heard much from Fages recently, but its good to hear him again. Here he has a seven minute piece of acoustic turntable and field recordings, in a fascinating interplay of rotating and clicking sounds in a free improvised manner. It makes a nice contrast to the following piece by Bhob Rainey, which is a dreamy piece for solo saxophone. Distant, sustaining, minimal. Like air being captured on tape. Its a pity that it's so relatively short. Don't forget to check out the label's website as there is plenty more free to download by all the good field recording boys. (FdW)


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