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Vital Weekly 661

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LOREN CONNORS & JIM O'ROURKE - TWO NICE CATHOLIC BOYS (CD by Family Vineyard)
RACHEL SHEARER - FAKERIE (DVD by Family Vineyard)
Following last week's 'Sacral Symphony' compilation, now it's time for 'Two Nice Catholic Boys', and the boys being Loren Connors and Jim O'Rourke. I am not sure if they are still catholic, but I sure like to believe they are nice. While Connors was never 'gone', Jim O'Rourke had a break from music for a while, following his departure from Sonic Youth and settling in Tokyo. The good news is that he's back, even when this CD contains recordings made in 1997 when the two nice boys toured Europe. Both armed with an electric guitar, an amplifier, and seemingly no sound effects. Three pieces, but something here says it was recorded on more nights and then spliced together. It doesn't matter of course, but the end result is what matters. A strange affair of howling guitars, on the point of feedback, on the point of pain, on the verge of collapse. But also at ease, quiet, introspective, a melody, a few notes being strummed, silence. Blues? Yes, blues music, but then away from the usual schematics and into the hearth-broken world of loneliness. Great desolate music. Didn't loose one bit or byte after a decade.
Music from New Zealand is always lo-fi drone music? Wrong assumption of course, although perhaps an easy mistake. Rachel Shearer worked as Lovely Midget, with releases on Siltbreeze, Xpressway, Flying Nun, Corpus Hermeticum and Ecstatic Peace, both as her solo moniker and with bands as Queen Meanie Puss and Angelhead. I have that Corpus Hermeticum release somewhere, but its covered with dust - such is the tragedy of reviewing music - but once I am done with this DVD I will dig that out and check it again, as 'Fakerie' is true beauty. A single twenty-two minute piece of music and visuals. The image part consists of five white lights flashing on and off, like stars. In the beginning in sync with the music but as the music progresses, this seems no longer be the case. There is no mentioning of an instruments, so we have to guess here. At the start I thought it was a small ensemble playing, percussion, guitar, playing a small cluster of sound and then letting them die out into sustain, not entirely and then returning with another bang. Then slowly the piece transforms into a more abstract, micro glitch territory. It goes almost unnoticed, until its transformation is complete and it seems like a totally new piece. An excellent piece of true beauty, that works well with but also without the film. A pity I don't have a home cinema with a big screen, as this would be perfect to watch at night in complete darkness. The year is young, highlight number one is noted down. (FdW) Address: http://www.family-vineyard.com

REVENANT - TOPOLO (CD by Prele Records)
On the back cover of this release we read: "'Revenant' is an ongoing project with open membership that focuses on site-specific acoustic actions, or activated environments. Each action is a document of a specific moment in time in a specific location." For an action held in 2006 in Topolo, near the Slovenien border, present were Yannick Dauby, Olivier Feraud, John Grzinich, Hitoshi Kojo and Patrick McGinley. The five of them went out into the forest and 'all sounds [...] originated from materials found in-situ, or from the space itself. No overdubbing or editing was done in order to document this specific action and location in time'. There is an interesting booklet that goes with this with interesting texts, also with photos of the five artists in the forest. It is not told how this was recorded but we hear lots of trees, branches, leaves being rubbed, cracked, hit and touched upon. Maybe this was recorded by each individual player and then pieced together, or perhaps a great microphone was set up and then it was recorded. If ever did a walk in the forest, then the sounds used by Revenant may sound familiar (and if you didn't, I suggest you go out do a forest trip right away), but in the opening piece it also sounds like a violin, or two, being scraped. I can't imagine that was in-situ, but perhaps some rubbing of leaves could be similar. I thought this was quite a fascinating release of familiar sounds, but oddly enough also the absence of sounds, such a birds. A fine work of field recordings mixed with acoustic action, or rather an action outside using natural elements. A work that by passes the usual routine of both field recordings and electro-acoustic music, and such opens new roads. (FdW) Address: http://www.prelerecords.net

WERNER DAFELDECKER - LONG DEAD MACHINES - I-IX (CD by Presto!?)
This CD may last just under twenty-nine minutes, it something to play a few times in a row. Werner Dafeldecker's music is not easy, and requires a few repeated listening before it gives away its beauty. You may know as an improvising music, the owner of Durian but here he plays solo. His first solo double bass release. No electronic processing, just the sound of the double bass. He plays it not in a very regular way, but as a large resonating box, which happens to have strings on it. He fits it, strum it, plucks it and all in a rhythmical but highly minimal way. The longest piece here is a simple, repeated bang to the instrument, which shows a slow development, and that's it. Sometimes I had the idea that Dafeldecker uses multi layers of sound, but then it might very well be not the case. A deceivingly 'simple' release, but I don't think that justifies the music. What Dafeldecker does, requires a lot of concentration from both the listener and the player. Every time you play it something new seems to be happening and in all its stillness a lot of small beauty is kept. A refined work of improvisation. (FdW) Address: http://www.prestorecords.com

MONOTON - EIGHT LOST TRACKS (CD by Oral)
Canada's Oral label can be quite proud: they dug up all the works by Austria's Monoton, the baby of Konrad Becker and released them before on CD. Monoton's music was its time ahead: minimalist pulses based on analogue synthesizers, thus predating techno, glitch, clicks & cuts, and what's better: it still sounds good. The two previous releases were officially released back then, but the eight pieces were never released, save for two on an EP and a compilation. The pieces were recorded between 1981 and 1983 and are easily trademark Monoton pieces. A simple sequence is set forward, some synths hum along and sometimes there is the monotonos voice of Becker. Like I said when I reviewed 'Blau - Monotonprodukt 02' (Vital Weekly 534), I still like the sequencer based pieces over the rhythm machine, but they are all great. A lot of things come together in this music: minimal electronic music, Neue Deutsche Welle, techno, clicks & cuts. Think D.A.F. meeting Pan Sonic (now that would be a great idea too, come to think of it). With all the interest in everything 'old' - and in a lot of cases, not very relevant - Monoton still stands the test of time. Eight no longer lost pieces of great electronic music. (FdW) Address: http://www.oral.qc.ca

PHROQ - CONNECTIONS, OPPURTUNITIES FOR MISTAKES (CD by Shiver Sounds)
Francisco Meirino has been around for quite some time, as Phroq and has produced a bulk of releases on a variety of labels, such as Ground Fault, Banned, Even Stilte, Entr'acte, Solipsism, Gameboy, Carbon and others. Shiver Sounds is his own label. Failure is one of the things that interests him. Wether by accident - something breaks - or by his own fault, Meirino is interested in continuing the creative process. For 'Connections, Oppurtunities For Mistakes' he uses minidisc failures, the death of a PA system, electro-static background noises, broken cassette recorder and more. Phroq's music is based on the recordings of these failures, which he then puts together as music. This he does here with some refined class, I must say. It would be too easy to say that Phroq uses the idiom of microsound and that he has put in some extra loud noise elements, but it comes down to just that. Electro magnetic charges running up and down, and then a loud bang of something breaking. Some of these sounds get looped around and further processed. Thus the failure becomes the basis of a creation. Every sound can be used in whatever way, and that's exactly Phroq's point. He does a great job here, with some highly intelligent music. Its dynamic range for one is a fine thing. Ranging from the superloud to the super quiet, makes this an intense and tense release. Clever compositions of electrical sounds made into electronic music. Music with a dramatic content. Of course there are others who worked in this field, Möslang/Guhl's cracked everyday electronic comes to mind or Joe Colley, but Phroq seems, at least to me, to take things into the world of composition, and that's a great thing. A very fine disc, the best thing I heard from him so far. (FdW)
Address: http://www.phroq.com

STORMHAT - ADDICTED TO DISASTER (CD by Diophantine Discs)
THE ORATORY OF DIVINE LOVE - MEDITATIO (CD by Diophantine Discs)
LOCRIAN - GREYFIELD SHRINES (LP by Diophantine Discs)
Somehow Niels Mark managed to slip in a review, Advance CDR it says, in Vital Weekly 626 which ended with the words, "the "Addicted to disaster"-album will be available on US-label Diophantine Discs soon", which took almost 7 months. That's not something we ought to be doing, I guess. Stormhat is the Danish word for one of the European continent's most poisonous plants; a few grams consumption of the Stormhat-plant marks the end of a human life. Its also the name chosen by Peter Bach Nicolaisen to work around with sound and music that entirely is based on processed field recordings. That may sound like old news to anyone, but I must say that if you expect some microsound, ambient glitch than 'Addicted To Disaster' will be a small disappointment, and that's exactly what I like it. No disappointment here for me. This is a pretty strong disc of multiple layered field recordings that never slip under the threshold of hearing, but owe much more to world of 'noise' and 'industrial', even when it has as such nothing to do with that world. This music is there, it's present and a truly great pleasure to hear. Its hard to say what these field recordings originally were, except for the occasional thunder storm passing and some crackle of leaves, but otherwise things are too abstract to be recognized. This breaks away from the traditional field recordings cum microsound ground and moves into something different. That's a great thing and Stormhat delivered a fine CD.
John Gore, the man behind Cohort Records who presents us every now and then with a fine split release (see last week for instance) is also a musician and as such he works as Kirchenkampf and The Oratory Of Divine Love. There are differences between both projects but as far as I'm concerned they are too small to be noted. Both projects have had a couple of releases, mainly on limited CDR and vinyl, but also on CD. Maybe the difference in the projects lie in the fact that everything by The Oratory Of Divine Love is recorded in real time, 'straight to DAT with no overdubs' as it says here on the cover and which is the only information presented. Nothing about sound sources. And hearing the work, it's not easy to guess either. Whatever is used, is being clouded by the use of sound effects, mainly a strong love of reverb. Perhaps there have been synthesizers used, or radio (which is one source he used in the past), but they are drowned out in reverb. Maybe not entirely electronically. But then maybe I'm thinking this up, by looking at the cover of the CD, which depicts a cathedral. Maybe the work is played inside a cathedral, and we are dealing here with natural reverb - however there are reverb units for sale that have a preset called 'cathedral'. Difficult thing. Difficult because such an extensive use of reverb is also a cheap drug. Its quite easy to use a snippet of sound, feed to the reverb unit, freezing the sound and let it continue on end. Having said that I must say that this fifty minute is actually quite nice, despite my objections against the over-use of reverb. The piece is, like the title suggests, a meditation in sound. Flowing on end, chilling to the bone (a bit more bass end wouldn't harm the piece), making one long ebb and flow of sound, in a very subtle way. Nice one indeed.
Jliat wasn't too pleased with Locrian's Bloodlust CD last week, so I keep this new piece of vinyl under my guard here. It was recorded in November 2007 at some radio station in Chicago. Locrian is a duo of A. Foisy and T. Hannum and at their controls are guitars and sound effects. What bothered Jliat doesn't bother me, the gritty lo-fi textures of this music just fits the plan it seems to me. Not everything has to be ones and zeroes, and the cassette seems to be love object of this year, so why not the howling noise of guitars, feedback and effects pressed into grey vinyl? One side shows their filthy side and one side their introspective mood. I must say I like that side better. Perhaps I heard both sides done by others, sometimes better, so I have to go for a more subjective judgment of this record. What do I like, not thinking of what could be done in terms of being 'new'? Then their soft side is more appreciated. There is a great tension lurking underneath the surface, like a giant outburst to come. Guitars tinkle like bells, while a great beast slumbers on the speakers. That is the way to go. The noise end is... is well, just the noise end of things. A bit too easy and simple for my taste. More drone ambient noise please. (FdW)
Address: http://www.discs.diophantine.net

THE HATERS - FURTHER (CD by Transparancy)
Last saturday I witnessed some noise acts, and I was wondering about what they do. The performance element is still a strong focal point, but the sight of half naked men and women, vomiting over a microphone is hardly shocking, unless of course the history of performance art is a serious lack in your knowledge. Music wise there isn't much new either under the sun. Feedback, shouting, toys and electronic toys. Sometimes I think the more effort is put into the performance, the less is done with the music, and vice versa. Mentally unstable youngsters for whom a bunch of noise is awesome, but what does it bring us then? Then on the same day I received a new CD by The Haters, and that exemplifies for me what noise should be, both in terms of music as well as performance art. One long piece of loud noise, and one shorter piece of loud noise. Loud indeed, but the musical aspect is never lost, nor the variation to make an interesting piece. Loops run around in circles, fading in and out, small variations in the frequencies make this a true delight to hear. There is lots of sonic detail, audio richness in this. Performance wise The Haters also do interesting piece, music on tape, and an action that is far beyond the usual spit and shit. That's how these things should be done. I am not lost for the world of noise, but I do have strong reservations against repeated aktionist kunst under the pre-text of art and music. The Haters are one of those rare places where true and original noise can be heard. (FdW)
Address: http://www.jupitter-larsen.com

EMERALDS - WHAT HAPPENED (CD by No Fun Productions)
Back in Vital Weekly 633 I was pleasantly surprised by 'Solar Bridge', a CD by a trio named Emeralds. They have their background with CDR releases for noise labels, but what they play is hardly noise based. Armed with analogue synthesizers, guitars and sound effects they create music that owes more to cosmic music from the Germanic seventies than the 00's noise of USA. More Hypnos perhaps than No Fun, but maybe that's a bridge too far. Emeralds offer more tracks than on 'Solar Bridge', about an hour worth of music, and its totally in line with their previous CD. Cosmic synthesizer music, with lots of sound effects, a bit of guitar. There is also some vague notion of vocals (oooh's and aaah's) and somewhere there should be field recordings. Tangerine Dream without the arpeggio's but with a rougher edge that the original lacks. Emeralds do most certainly not play very original music, but their cosmic synths with a small dose drone noise (especially in 'Damaged Kids') is certainly highly enjoyable. (FdW)
Address: http://www.nofunproductions.com

PAUL MAY & PLATFORM - BROKEN HULK DISPLAY (CDR by Minimal Resource Manipulation)
Matthew Atkins, also known as Platform, has released a couple of CDRs in a relatively short time span, teams up here with a drummer, Paul May. May has half of Ladywoodsman, and has played on albums by Alexander Tucker, Duke Garwood, Carolyn Hume and Barkingside. He's an improvisation drummer. They know eachother for fifteen years, but this is the first time they worked together. May has supplied a tape of his percussive work to Atkins who has transformed the material. Atkins stays close to original rhythm tapes, adding sparsely electronics, and occasionally creating loops of the drums. This all makes great sense as the four pieces on this CDR (lasting almost twenty-one minutes) have a great vibrant feeling. Electro-acoustic manipulation meets up with the improvised playing that has a slight jazzy touch to it. From all the discs I received from Platform in the past months, I think this is the best release. Playful, skilled manipulation of the material, reminding me of the Steven Hess/Robert Hampson (Main) collaboration. Maybe Platform should seek the collaboration more? (FdW)
Address: http://www.minimalresourcemanipulation.co.uk

KATCHMARE - GROOM LAKE (CDR by Scissor Death)
Nick Hoffman is an active man. He has three labels under his belt, Pilgrim Talk, Ghost & Son and Scissor Death. I don't know the difference between the three, but its on the latter that he releases the bulk of his own musical work under the name of Katchmare. Last year he received his BA in music, and I can't say I heard that quality in this music, but I would let him graduate too, based on this work. Here he plays guitar and computer in twelve small compositions of what could best be described as 'ambient' music: gliding and sustaining tones which operate mostly, but not always, on the higher end of the musical spectrum, that however never works in terms of flat, worn out ambient music. Hoffman knows how to kick the material around and give it a somewhat more sharp edge, a rough angle. Still on the experimental side of things, but also 'flowing' enough to lull you into a pleasant nightmare. Very nice work, perhaps even his most refined work to date, and again it comes with a booklet with drawings. (FdW)
Address: http://www.scissordeath.com

PARANOIA BIRTHDAY - IL NE RESTERA (CDR by FFHHH)
DEMETAN MESLIER - PROPRIETAIRE (CDR by FFHHH)
XAVIER DUBOIS & NOIR (CDR by FFHHH)
It's probably the strength of CDR releases that one can do so many in such a short period. Belgium's FFHHH label started in 2006 and the three releases I'm reviewing here have catalogue numbers 86, 88 and 90 (yes, Factory Records learned us not every catalogue number is a music release, but in this case it is). That's a pretty vast catalogue in a short time span. Also, another strength of the CDR world, none of the names I ever heard before. 'Paranoia Birthday is one of the solo project of the father of Young Girls Records', it says as info for the release 'Il Ne Restera', which is a companion release to 'Hesta' (which I didn't get). Two pieces, of which 'Ni L'Amour' is a drone piece which starts out nice, but over the course moves into violent, loud shape, and then gets broken down into a more refined piece. An organ in loop form. Nice, but perhaps a bit normal. The second piece is must shorter and starts out violently, but towards the end goes into lo-fi noise guitar & vocals, which seems like a left-over from the tape it was recorded on. Strange. Not bad, not great.
Gregory Duby is the man behind the label and also the musician behind Demetan Meslier. Armed with an acoustic guitar and some sound effects, he created 'Proprietaire', which is basically a disc of improvised music. The sound is fed through the effects, usually a sample/hold pedal and then on top Duby improvises a bit further. Again not bad, but maybe a bit too free form for me. Not in the sense of free improvisation, but rather in a way that it seems to be done without too much effort. I easily thought: "yeah, well, so what?". What's the point of this? Just a bit of guitar doodling, some electronic effects and that's it. But it has its moment, such as in the final (of course untitled piece).
Xavier Dubois is the guitarist of Yermo and Ultraphallus and here he teams up with a band called Noir: Giel Bils (guitar, percussion, programming), Tim Marshall (synthesizer, noise) and Pol Vanlaer (percussion). Of the three releases this is the most interesting one. Also improvised, this lo-fi rock quartet reminded me of the many bands from down under New Zealand, Surface Of The Earth, K Group, A Handful Of Dust and such like. Shimmering guitar sounds, vague percussive bangs and rattling bass and noise lurking underneath. Recording quality is adapted to fit the lo-fi style. This is exactly how it could have sounded coming from New Zealand. It seems that FFHHH will branch out into releasing LPs as well, so I would like to suggest to get Dubois & Noir jamming same more of lo-fi rock noise and put that on LP, whilst the other two should safely develop some more on CDR. (FdW) Address: http://www.ffhhh.be

JLIAT - NOW THAT'S WHAT I CALL NOISE VOLUME 20 (CDR by Larks Council England)
JLIAT - NOW THAT'S WHAT I CALL NOISE VOLUME 21 (CDR by Larks Council England)
JLIAT - ARE WE LIVING IN A COMPUTER SIMULATION? (CDR by Larks Council England)
A confession has to be made. I did play all of Jliat's 'Now That's What I Call Noise' volumes in the past and did so with these two. Another sixteen tracks times four minutes. The confession is that I never them again. I feel there is no need for it, as there is always a new one coming. That I think is part of the whole release game Jliat plays. Perhaps they can interchanged with eachother, perhaps not. I must admit I very seldom play a Merzbow more than twice either, with a few exceptions. So Jliat is in good companion ship there. An unrelentness massive noise attack, like before and like they will come afterwards, no doubt. Noise is a conservative kind of music, with not much new happening, and Jliat proofs this once again and once more. Great to play loud on a pair of headphones though.
'Are We Living In A Computer Simulation' is an entirely different work, than the massive set of 'That's What I Call Noise' - even when its not easy listening either. To read and understand the liner notes takes more time than listening to the audio content. Jliat goes back here to his previous where he investigates silence, the world of bits and bytes, zeroes and ones. 'The PI and Prime tracks were mae by loading the numerical data saved in text into an audio editor which accepts data as text files. This data is used to plot the PCM audio waves'. Plus a lot more on the subject of numbers and data. On the music side of things we find five tracks, four of them being very short, static rumble and feedback, whilst the fifth is very long, close to twenty minutes, and is called 'the First Ten Million Prime Numbers'. Highly food for thought this one. The perfect come down music and text following 'That's What I Like About Noise'. (FdW)
Address: http://www.jliat.com

The complete Vital Weekly is available at: Vital Weekly

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