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Vital Weekly 663

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LARS MYVROLL - THE ISLAND (CD by Safe As Milk Records)
LUCA MAURI - BETWEEN LOVE AND HATE (CD by Creative Sources Recordings)
A trilogy in which the guitar plays the all important role. Things have been quiet for Safe As Milk Records for a while, but they are revived now with the release of this 'un-pretentious concept album' by one Lars Myrvoll. he was a member of rock trio Fatuhiva and 'improvised anti-music' in Brotthast Pany, but played also improvised music with people like Rafael Toral, David Stackenäs, Axel Dörner and a whole bunch of others. The concept of the album, un-pretentious or not, lies in the fact that all the pieces were recorded in his bedroom between 2002-2008, so perhaps the 'concept' lies a bit in the some what crude recording technique of his otherwise nicely played instrumentals on the guitar. Short, sweet melodies, a bit blues like, touched by experimentalism and pop like tunes. Quite nice. But also without too much variation. Twelve tracks at thirty-seven or so minutes isn't that long, but it doesn't have that much variation in them. One could wish for more tracks like 'The Gleaming Water (Monaca)' with a vague shimmering violin and horn section, that has a nice tropical feel to it. Sun and surf. It moves away from just a guitar piece and that is something that the majority of the pieces are made of. More that, less of just one type of playing. Keep up with the great booklet though.
More on solo guitar is one Luca Mauri, who plays 'guitar, ride, snare, crash, editing', which means he plays guitar and drums. Oh, and I think one of those loops devices, which makes every men an orchestra. Luca played drums in Kokoro Mayikibo, and bass/guitar/drums in a duo called Two Dead Bodies, 'devoted to tribal/noise improvisations', as well as various improvisational gigs. I must say his CD isn't great. 'Choke' is all about distorted guitars but adds nothing to the idiom of guitar noise. 'All That Remains' is an ambient epilogue. 'A Quiet Storm' has just too much looped guitars, which perhaps can also be said of 'Decline Of A Beautiful Face'. 'Pulse/Loop' explains itself. Its not all bad, but it sounds too much like other things that have been better. This could have been a nice CDR somewhere, but need not be on CD per se.
The final hero of the six strings is Spanish Ferran Fages, who plays electric guitar and nothing else. It is also the one that is furthest moved from the other two. Where Myrvoll tends to play (pop-)music, goes Mauri a bit more towards improvised music, but Fages goes all the way. I'm not that saying that it is because of that, that this is good, but his solo guitar (no effects, just amplification) has a great solitude character to it, a feel of isolation, desolation perhaps. He succeeds where Mauri fails: there is audible tension in the music - this marks the difference between good improvisation and 'doing some music' I think. If you like Loren Connors, then this Fages CD is right up that alley. Hauntingly beautiful. (FdW)

FABRIKSAMPLER V2 (Compilation CD by Pharmafabrik)
Listening to this compilation is like drifting through a dream. Pharmafabrik is a Slovenian label that has been on the stage for almost 15 years. Despite its long existence the label has only a limited back catalogue of releases behind, but on the contrary there is a number of interesting releases covering various styles of electronic music. The same can be said about the first sampler from the label that was released in 2006, covering a wide specter of styles from noise across trip hop to IDM. As the 19th release from Pharmafabrik now comes the second sampler titled "Fabriksampler V2". Opposite the first sampler that had a great span of electronic styles, this second compilation has a strong focus on ambient expression or subtle downbeat at the most. As written in the opening of this text, there is a dreamlike quality hidden in this 53 minutes long journey. One thing is the way the each of the eleven tracks has been interwoven into its neighbor tracks. Another thing is the choice of expression from the included artists. The list of contributors counts big shots such as Lull aka Mick Harris (ex-Napalm Death / Defecation etc.), Final aka Justin Broadrick (ex-Godflesh) but also more unknown, never the less very interesting acts counting Swedish artist Henrik Nordvargr Björk and Slovenian artist Pureh, that took part in the sampler "Elektrotehnika Slavenika" released by The Wire Magazine. There are many great moments on this lengthy journey of ambience. Climaxes occurs with the appearance of Pureh and his guitarbased ambient-track of dark and beautiful soundscapes spiced by ghouls and strange voices titled "Kogel" and with the otherworldly weird work "Mu" from the artist Go Tsushima built on subtle rhythm textures and spacey sounds bouncing in and out. Other great moments comes with the deep space from The Cherry Blues Project including buzzing hypnodrones and industrial noises crackling from behind together with abstract sub-rhythms. One of the most noisy moments is presented by Dodecahedragraph, with an alluring piece of buzzing noises accompanied by long sheets of lush melodic soundscapes - beautiful. A very impressive sampler of experimental ambient from Pharmafabrik. Highly recommended! (Niels Mark)

CUSTODIAN - I (CD by Syzmic Records)
Syzmic Records is a brand new Wisconsin based US-label that focuses on music of the dark side counting harsh noise, power electronics, industrial and dark ambient. The very first album of label comes from a composer calling himself Custodian. Judged by the title "I" present album is the first album and it would be unfair to accuse it for being expressionally modest: Less than thirty of full throttle noise divided into eight smaller chunks of sonic brutality. Not extremely innovating, on the contrary this is an album to be remembered for its lack of sonic mercy. Second album from the label is by an artists calling himself Metaconqueror. Compared to the aforementioned full throttle aggression, the album titled "Of steel, Bone and Fire" is an album that more points towards the ambient-scene. With ten pieces of sheer darkness and no happy tones the album lies somewhere between dark ambient and power electronics thanks to some quite abrasive interventions once in a while. Like the distorted growling voice on the work "Beasts of oblivion". Peak on the album comes with the atmospheric and quite melodic piece titled "Barrier of the gods". A quite beautiful moment on an album that first of calls for the darkness of electronic sound. (Niels Mark) Address:

This one brings us to Australia. Cajid media is a small label dedicated to experimental music and sound art by Australian artists and musicians, like Thembi Soddell, Lawrence English, Natasha Anderson, a.o. This ninth release presents work by James Rushford, a young Melbourne-based composer and performer, interested in a diverse range of contemporary music. 'Vellus' brings together six compositions. It is hard to imagine that these works are composed by a 23-year old person. Rushford is in most compositions also one of the performers, mostly playing electronics. The unconventional combinations of instruments is what strikes me first. The CD opens with 'Lucas Stumbles', a work in three parts, for speak-percussion and electronics. The first two parts are very calm. In the third part however we witness an explosion of percussive sounds. This play with dynamics is one the characteristics of his style. In 'La Madre' we hear the voices of two sopranos, plus cello and electronics. This piece satisfied me most of all, because of the expressive vocal work by Deborah Kayser and Jessica Aszodi. 'Tractus' is written for a diversity of string instruments plus tam-tam. It is a very dynamic work, played with verve by the musicians. Clarinet and electronics do an interesting noisy research on sound and textures in 'Holdmegentlytightly'. In 'Respite in the Woodland' clarinets and chamber organ are combined. The CD closes with 'Borders' a work for solo double bass. Rushford proves himself a very disciplined composer. He is both not afraid of silence and noise. In each composition he works with a limited set of sounds and musical ideas. This way he creates interesting works that didn't bore me one moment. Although this is modern composed music, there is a certain roughness and power in the music that make it very charming. So all in all a satisfying debut from Rushford, a composer with considerable potential. (Dolf Mulder) Address:

Since Chadbourne made his first appearances on the Parachute label, run by him and Zorn, Chadbourne has released many, many records on a great diversity of recordlabels. Now it is the turn for Rossbin to release one. This label has a very mixed catalogue with releases by Scott Fields Ensemble, Mike Cooper, Hafler Trio, Alessandro Bosetti, a.o. I must admit that is a long time ago since I last listened to mister Chadbourne. I keep good memories to the Shockablliy-concert somewhere in the mid-80s, which was my first encounter with his genius. Later I often saw him on stage with Jon Rose and others. But in the last few years, he disappeared out of my sight. So it is nice to have a new CD here by him. The CD contains recordings made between 2002 and 2006. They have in common that all of them are country and protest songs. Some of them composed by Chadbourne himself, others by Merle Haggard, Nick Drake, a.o. Some are solo banjo-tunes, like the great opening track 'Shape of Things'. It has all the characteristics of how Chadbourne treats, interprets songs. Sometimes speeding up, sometimes drifting way from the song through moments of very free improvisation, but always returning to the melody of the song. Other pieces are in duo-, trio- or quartet-format. For a few tracks Chadbourne is assisted by ex-Violent Femmes musicians Brian Ritchie and Victor de Lorenzo. In another track Frank Pahl (Only a Mother, etc.) is participating, playing a pump organ in the background. With the harmonica of Walter Daniels, and pianoplaying by Earl Poole Ball, Chadbourne plays a nice blues in 'One More Road to Cross'. Together with some other line ups in other tracks, this makes a nice mixed bag.
'Sestina for Religion' is the exception on this CD. Chadbourne plays with turntables and speaks of his anti-religious feelings. Most songs on this CD however are very loosely played country- and protest songs. The low-fi recording fits well with the atmosphere of these songs. Some of them recorded live, others in the studio. It is nice to hear that Chadbourne still continues on his path. But if you already walked along this path for a while this CD will not offer many surprises. (Dolf Mulder) Address:

MALE - ALL ARE WELCOME (CD by Other Electricities)
BAJA - AETHER OBELISK (CD by Other Electricities)
Two quite different releases here on Other Electricities. From the a rock and improvisation end comes Male, a duo of Jonathan Krohn (keyboards) and Ben Mjolsness (guitar), who have been together for five years. In their hometown Chicago they met a lot of musicians, from rock to improvisation an they were asked to do a recording session with them. If I understood well, Krohn and Mjolsness first laid down the first tracks and then each musician added his (no girls as far as I can see among their friends) part to the whole, one by one, without hearing what the others did. Quite a nice idea. In the post production stage only 'incidentals' were cut out. Their friends included Steven Hess (percussion), Mike Reed (percussion), Josh Berman (cornet), Jason Adasiewicz (vibraphone), Todd Mattei (guitar) and Nick Butcher on tape. Four pieces on this thirty minute CD of which the opening 'Wrangler For Higher' is a bit of a messy rock song, but 'I'll Be Standing Soon' is quite a nice drone like piece with nicely shifting percussive sounds and the core piece of the CD. 'Dark Advances' is short and seems to be guitars only, more like a bridge to 'Used To be Guy', in which the tapes by Butcher are used from outside, the street sounds and more shimmering percussion sounds. Quite a nice CD, fine concept and worked out in a great way. Maybe a bit short?
A year ago, in Vital Weekly 611, we reviewed 'Wolfhour', third album by Daniel Vujanic, and now its time for the fourth 'Aether Obelisk' and it doesn't much change the routine of before. Its still that crazy odd mixture of jazz, pop, rock and free improvisation, all thrown into a sampler, with bits of real instruments on top, organ, drums, guitar and voices. The real surprise of last year has worn out here I must admit, but it still works very neatly. Still funny, still feel good music, still packed with lots of crazy witty sounds. A particular strong voice of his own here. Very nice again. (FdW)

In Poland women play a marginal role in experimental music, Musica Genera tells us. I never heard of Anna Zaradny, who was in 1977 already on a compilation called 'Women In Electronic Music'. She played with Burkhard Stangl, Cor Fuhler, Zbigniew Karkowski, but also composed music for theatres, sound installations and collaboration with visual artists. Yet she never made her own CD, which 'Mauve Cycles' now is. Her first solo CD. And I must say: what a great CD! Two pieces, 'Mauve 1' and 'Mauve 2', which are pieces of electronic music. Drone based, but loud, deep, and never noisy. Towards the end of 'Mauve 1' the material starts to modulate and vibrate, in a Pan Sonic/ø like manner. Think Eliane Radigue but then just a little bit louder and more forcefully present and with more rhythm aspects to it. Highly minimal but with those slight variations at all the right moments that make this a damn fine release. I am not sure how the music was generated, but it wouldn't be a surprise if this was made on a bunch of analogue synthesizers (but I might be wrong). I was blown away, literary, by this one. Great, massive work. (FdW)

To celebrate ten years of the Viennese venue and bar Rhiz, the label of the same name released a very nice small box, which holds print work, pictures, a badge, a booklet and a small plastic bag. Inside the booklet you see with every track also such a bag, filled with something and dated on the day the concert was of which they used a track. Very cute. Musicwise there are some interesting things to be noted. I have no idea how big Rhiz is, but there is some interest in rock oriented music from Blurt, Volcano The Bear or Bulbul & Maja Osojnik, where we would have expected only the presence of laptop boys as Pita, Fennesz, Bernhard Fleischmann or Sluta Leta. They may form the majority on this compilation, the 'others' form the interesting counterpart of these. It makes this a pretty varied compilation of live pieces, from the jazz of Blurt to the techno of Wipeout, the singer songwriting of Gustav or Bruckmayr and and the laidback electronics of Schlammpeitziger. A nice souvenir. (FdW) Address:

F (Compilation CD by Zelphabet)
Zelphabet is an L.A.-based label that focuses on noise music. Over the next four to five years, the label will release a series of 26 noise CD compilations, which is exactly the number of letters in the English alphabet. Thus there will a compilation for every letter in the alphabet. Up until now there has been contributions from legends such as Achim Wollscheid, Arcane Device, Asmus Tietchens, Daniel Menche, Dave Phillips and Charlemagne Palestine etc. + a number of lesser known artists. On issue #6 in the series we have come to the letter F and the installment features contributions from Failing Lights, Fin, Francisco Lopez and Frans De Waard. The compilation opens with the two lesser known acts, first the artist Failing Lights and his 20 minutes work "The submarine twilight" of guitar-based ambient/noise followed by the collaged noise work "Works for magnetic tape" from Fin. After these two comes two well-known of the sound art/noise-scene: First Francisco Lopez and his untitled work #210, a work that draws associations back to the field recordings milestone "La Selva" (V2, 1998). The work is based on animals as sound sources, where the barking of dogs is an important part. Final and most interesting piece comes from Frans De Waard and just like the contribution from Lopez, the work from Frans De Waard is built on recordings of concrete sounds, first of all from the public space i.e. human crowds and distant industrial sound drones. As the piece develops the collage of found sounds slowly transforms into an abstract soup of thick drones of abrasive noise. Thus an interesting noise compilation and a very interesting conceptual idea from the Zelphabet label. (Niels Mark) Address:

UNDO - DES TOURNAGES (miniCD by Squint Fucker Press)
A is for Art here (not ambient). The sticker on the package said '1 vinyl, 3 CDs', but was super light. Not strange if the 'Rimmed Record' by Christoph Migone is 'physically reduced to just the outer rim [...] playable at your own risk', which looks great, along with a silkscreened recycled (?) record cover. If ever you are invited to a party where you asked to bring a record, take this one. Everybody will be jealous and you'll be able to talk normally instead of shout. As I said A is for Art.
There for its also hard to judge the Chelkowski release, since I got the cheapo promo version and not the 'multiples, beet seeds and rosemary... all housed in hand made wooden box', in an edition of 25. Otherwise no information - go figure. I never heard of Chelkowski and is that box still available, and if not why would I bother? Its dedicated to one Sergei Parajanov and contains mostly pieces of sampled ethnic music, mixed with ethnic records. The second CD has a fifty minute piece called 'Franck And The Sun' and seems more a documentary or radio play. This A is for Art is too obscure for me. I don't consider myself an art critique and therefore discharge me of the job at hand.
Less arty, unless you count the rather cryptic liner notes, is the CD by one Simon Brown and Dylan Crichton (there is a small card in the package that says 'In Memorium Dylan Crichton 1978-2008), who offer no less than 99 tracks, although I don't see the word 'random' mentioned. The press text makes hardly any sense - maybe the art is in there - and so do the 99 tracks, which are apparently recorded over a decade. Short pieces, of around one minute plus, of electronic music, some singing, answer phone machines, weirdness. Outsider anyone? Maybe the dictionary of disrupt minds? You never know with these things I guess. There are nice pieces in here for sure, but the shortlived character makes it very hard to focus on just that one - The Residents 'Commercial Album' should be a text book for people like these.
The most interesting one, musically, while still having the right looks (microphone scratched the surface of the jewel case), is a 'fan CD' (mini CD in a transparent bigger one) by Undo, the ongoing duo collaboration of Christof Migone and Alexandre St-Onge, who recorded this work already in 2002. The text is also not very clear about this, as it skips between english and french in one line, without, I think the translation, but the actual music is very nice. A bit microsound, picked up whatever kind of microphone scratching the surface. Rotating crackling sound of sources unknown, like long wave sounds, star dust or sandpaper upon a turntable. A strange piece, but one I like very much. The obscure character of the sounds, which seem to turning and turning with irregular cracklings on top and some vague low micro sounds at the moment, the dynamics of the mix, makes this a great piece. (FdW) Address:

Lichtung is a German label specializing in what they describe as "Punk kein rock". Browsing through their back catalogue you realize that the focus of the label is noise oriented music with releases from heavy weights like Merzbow, AUBE, Kapotte Muziek, Zbigniew Karkowski etc etc. Latest albums from the label includes the first two mentioned artists. First album is titled "Muziek-Mix-Memory" and is a "versus"-album between Kapotte Muziek and Richard Ramirez. First track is the legendary trio of Kapotte Muziek, Frans De Waard, Peter Duimelinks and Roel Meelkop manupulating the source materials of composer Richard Ramirez. The intense work opens fairly quiet with crackling sounds and field recordings of water. Bursts of noises attack the relative quietness of the opening, but as the track develops the noise washes in and after twelve minutes the work transforms into hordes of harsh noise until the final moments where the tracks dwells back into peace. Second track is Richard Ramirez' take on Kapotte Muziek. In contrary to the radical change in expression of Kapotte Muziek's contribution, Radical Ramirez constantly keeps the mass of noise on a quite high sound levels resulting in an almost 20 minutes piece of harsh noise/power electronics. During the work there are moments of slightly easier levels but overall Mr. Ramirez creates a hard time for the receiving ears. Next album comes from an artist who is one of the true legends of abrasive sounds. The work titled "Dead leaves" from Merzbow consists of three lengthy pieces titled I - III. From zero the listener approximately gets twenty seconds of adjustment before the first attack of apocalyptic symphony drills its way into the brain. Overall the album offers full throttle noise during the three intersections of the album. Where the first two works are kept on an almost earaching noise-level the final work is slightly easier listening to with its low frequency sound levels and the subdued tones pumping from the ground into the work. Two interesting albums from the Licht-Ung that will first of all satisfy listeners of sonic extremity. (Niels Mark) Address:

Maybe the cover says it all: 'Chro(m)a deals with static music, sustained sounds, immobility and non causality. No editing or other kind of 'compositional' treatment takes place, other than the choice of recording equipment and the final 'selection' of what will be released'. Two pieces of twenty five minutes of various pieces of machinery recorded with contact microphones. Nothing happens in these highly static pieces of sound. Sound is a great phenomena, and surely you can record a bit, and then say it's a composition, but perhaps its even nicer then to go into your kitchen and listen to your fridge yourself. Nice thing to upset unsuspecting visitors. (FdW) Address:

From the world of improvised electro-acoustic music. I don't think I ever heard of The Wandering Rhizome, which is one Patrick Farmer. He plays here bass drum, large bamboo stem, four acoustic guitar pickups, microphone and milk frother. Quite a curious piece of electro acoustic sound emerges from the speakers, with occasional rattling sounds and what seems to be lots of lo-fi hiss sound. Lots of silence is built in this piece. But then sound gets sometimes picked up again, and the volume increases substantially. It hoovers that fine balance between almost silence and almost noise. Quite a nice piece of what I believe live action music for a few objects.
Behind PM are Goh Lee Kwang (mixer feedback) and Olaf Hochberg (piezo). I remember reviewing a rather obscure 3"CDR by them, but this one is actually quite nice. Four pieces, recorded in three different places in Berlin, with only few days in between (so you can tour a city!) of an endless stream of feedback like sounds and small crackles and big noise. It emerges on the borders of improvised music, electro-acoustic, microsound as well as noise. I know this sounds like a strange mixture, but it works well here. A great work, a strong leap forward. (FdW) Address:

To be honest I forgot what Jliat's 'Still Life' series was all about, but it was some conceptual thing about silence being translated to audio and/or midi. The series is now picked up again with this 'cover', 'interpretation' of the famous silent piece by John Cage. Originally performed on a piano by David Tudor, by not playing any notes, Whitehead chooses here to play the piano on the first piece and field recordings on the second, which was 'processed via software and played as a midi file'. Its a bit unclear as to what it is that he wants here, or perhaps I am too ignorant (or stupid) to see what the relation is to the Cage piece. I must say I like it for what it is, and that the puzzling aspect is kinda amusing. Jliat knows how to surprise me. In music as much as in writing. Thought for food stuff. (FdW) Address:

A long time, in Vital Weekly 484, we reviewed 'Fucking Hospital' by Sunday Noise 'Peace', which seemed to be inspired by Ikeda, Pan Sonic and Goem. After that we heard nothing, but now we learned that behind the project is one Philip Halke, who lives in Greece. He now returns with two mini CDRs, self released, but with a good quality printed cover. The music has certainly changed. Minimalism stayed, but Halke joins the microsound crowd with this release. On 'The Two Edges' there are two pieces. 'A Place That I Said Goodbye To' has field recordings from Corfu, and is both an elegant and dense piece of music, with strong emphasis on the deep end of the sound spectrum. 'Beyond Movement An Animal, Beyond An Animal The Sound' was created for a dance piece, where, if I am right, the dancer controlled the sounds. Water, insects, churchbells and processed sounds thereof make a likewise intense piece.
'Above The Din' has only one piece of music, which starts out for some time being very quiet. If I understand right this deals with sounds from 'civilization of machines and contemporary societies', so slowly this piece adds environmental sound upon environmental sound, with more and more city sounds dropping in and out of the mix. A bit of a more dirtier piece than the two on the other 3"CDR but also quite menacing. Like waiting for a big bang to happen. Excellent soundtrack material to a short horror movie. Both releases are excellent, very much like Behrens or Meelkop, Halke can easily match with the best in this field. (FdW) Address: <>

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