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Vital Weekly 666

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Recently in this mag you could read a review of a three-in-one noise compilation consisting of Merzbow, Sutcliffe Jugend and the interesting project called Satori. The contribution of Satori on the compilation was a so-called hypnopompic mix of a track from present re-released album "Kanashibari", which was originally released in 2007. "Kanashibari" is the Japanese word for sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis is the condition that occurs when people are waking up from sleep. It is the short period in the sleeping state where people are paralysed - unable to move. That certain condition of the sleep state are depicted in a quite threatening manner by Satori - a joint venture between founder of Cold Spring, Justin Mitchell and Neil Chaney also known for his industrial-project Pessary. The album is a 52 minutes long journey into utterly dark ambience. The work is based on deep and hypnotizing drones blowing into the listener like a stormy wind. Imagine yourself lost in an endlessly dark forest of ghouls and monstrous noises in the middle of a stormy night. The minimalist sonic darkness creates an alluring trance-like effect making the album the perfect companion for a trip into the deep layers of human sub-consciousness. Another album from the Satori-camp has seen the light of the day or rather the darkness of the night. "Contemptus mundi" is another very dark effort from the two british composers, this time in collaboration with the high priest of the church of Satan, Magus Peter H. Gilmore. While the joint venture behind Satori create dark ambient of low end rumbles added processed choir, bells and ochestral brass, Magus Peter H. Gilmore accompanies with spoken words focusing on the weakness of modern world. Underneath the multilayered dark ambient some slow and heavy rhythms creates a ritualistic atmosphere on the album. After the lengthy track "Contemptus mundi" running 26 minutes, comes a remix with an exclusive focus on the instrumental side and with more concentration on noisy elements. Where the opening track belongs to the dark ambient-style this so-called "Nameless wrath mix" is more towards the ambient-noise-style. Never the less two interesting ambient-based works from Satori that will appeal to listeners of projects such as Inade, Brighter Death Now and Lustmord. (Niels Mark) Address:

STROTTER INST - MINENHUND (CD by Hinterzimmer Records)
Music by Christoph Hess, also known as Strotter Inst has been reviewed before, solo or with his work. Hess uses modified old Lenco turntables, playing with rubber bands, records with tape affixed to it to create loops and rhythms and some effects are also in place. Nothing new under the turntable sun? Well, yes, actually there is. The music by Strotter Inst doesn't sound like Philip Jeck or Christian Marclay, but is more rooted in the world of industrial music on that very crossroad where it meets the minimalism of say Pan Sonic and the early father of minimalist music. Strotter Inst uses multi tracking for his pieces to create a dense atmosphere for his music. Things bounce up and down and make throughout a heavy, solid sound, but he also knows how to pull back and make a more quieter song, like in '#9'. These are fourteen very fine pieces, but its a bit too much. The good thing about old LP releases was the limited time available and it made musicians, I believe so at least, a bit more selective. 'Minehund' could have benefitted from that too. Maybe at forty minutes this would have been a great release, instead of a good one, with some weaker moments. But otherwise a fine CD indeed. (FdW) Address:

Graham Dowdall was, a long time, known as Dids and he played drums in Ludus, one of those early youngster idols of me, but since a couple of years he works as Gagarin as well as with a band named Roshi. His 'Ard Nev' CD was reviewed in Vital Weekly 544 and since then his sound developed more. More than on 'Ard Nev' it seems that Dowdall has embraced the technology of today, synthesizers, rhythm machines and such like, but then all of that in the world of computers. Still his music is firmly rooted in the melodic techno scene, the world of say Expanding Records, Highpoint Lowlife, Boltfish and such like. Still highly melodic, highly moody and melancholic as before, but also a bit more mechanical in approach. And still for old Ludus fans a shock, but their work is well documented on CD, so its time to move on. Gagarin stands firmly inside the current wave of sound and beat creators, and as such produces nothing new under the sun, but its a fine album altogether. (FdW) Address:

KLUMPES AHMAD - IN BED WE TRUST (CD by Hello Square Recordings)
AUSTIN BENJAMIN TRIO - AMALGAMA (CD by Hello Square Recordings)
Jazz music? Jazz music it is. The Hello Square Recordings label have developed from shoegazing laptop music into a jazz label. Perhaps not as clear cut on the release by Klumpes Ahmad, which a duo of Adrian Klumpes (piano, rhodes, contact microphone, FX pedals) and labelboss Shoeb Ahmad (guitar, tapes, computer, pedals, mixer). This is perhaps not the real jazz, as some may expect from my intro here, but then I must admit I heard the other ones first. Then, when playing Klumpes Ahmad, I noticed the piano especially playing slow jazzy motifs here, whereas much of the rest of instruments find their origins in laptop techniques. That may sound like an odd mixture, but its one that works quite well, I must say. Highly moody tunes, with a crackle base, loops of field recordings, heavily treated guitars, but then also laidback piano sounds on top. Not the real jazz thing of course, but I wish it was: I would certainly want to hear more of it.
The real jazz comes from the Austin Benjamin Trio, named after the pianist and bandleader of the three, also with Chris Pound on double bass and Evan Dorrian on drums. They have been part of the Andi & George Band and Spartak. This is unVital music, but usually its used to denounce something rock like, but here its jazz, acoustic jazz to be precise. I have no knowledge whatsoever of jazz, but this seems to me not too regular. The drums play patterns that we know from dub music, but never too long or too ongoing, before going back to piano and bass sounds. Like jazz, that much I know, each player gets his solo, per piece. Its a crazy release, and although nothing I would play very often, I must admit I had pleasure in hearing this, even if it was for the sheer pleasure of hearing something else than field recordings, laptops or noise. But perhaps my interest was also stirred by the simultaneous release of it with 'Unraveled, Rewoven', a remix CD with four remixes, by The Remote Viewer, Mapstation, Andrew Pekler and C.S.K.A. In these remixes of course electronics do play a part, since each of the four artists samples favorite bits to construct a new piece, which however is still close to the original. The Remote Viewer has a nice sparse track of low sounds, while Mapstation adds a more electronic drum to it, and taking the piano and bass also into an electric field, with a nice uplifting track. Pekler stays close to the original, only to add, it seems, some effects to the original, while new artist C.S.K.A. waves together a more ambient piece with a strong focus on the piano sounds. Nice pieces here, taking the original into a new land. (FdW)

We may know both of them as noise makers and perhaps best to forward to Jliat, but since meeting both artists, on different occasions I think, the curious me thought it would be good to check 'what they are doing now'. It was nice to keep and investigate further. Wiese plays here 'electronics, objects, msp, voice, synthesizer' and Yeh plays 'voice, synthesizer, electronics, tabletop bass guitar, objects'. The first thing that can be noticed is that there are fourteen tracks here, which range somewhere between one and half minute and six minutes. That's perhaps I wouldn't expect. Maybe I assumed three fifteen minutes of straight forward noise. That also doesn't happen. Surely things are noisy around 'Cincinnati', but the two take their inspiration more from the world of musique concrete than from the true noise world. They cut the sounds to pieces, play around with acoustic objects, amplified and recorded with contact microphones, take back in volume when needed and push things up when necessary. Each of the fourteen pieces has its own character, sounding different from the previous or the next, making this a highly varied but also highly interesting CD. This is the kind of the noise thing that gives me a great smile on my face, certainly some of the more funnier pieces using voices and the the nice cover art. (FdW) Address:

8ROLEK - FAT PIGS (CD by Warsztat8r)
Bartek Kujawski is the man behind 8rolek, and as such we reviewed him before, with a trio of albums on Mik Musik. Last year, in Vital Weekly 630, we reviewed an album under this one name, which didn't entirely convince or satisfy me. Maybe it didn't also convince him very much, since he returns now with a new 8rolek album on the same label as last year and this one surely does the trick again. 8rolek plays music that isn't part of any scene, except for that wide range of scenes that could be called 'anything rhythmic'. 8rolek throws all sorts of rhythm into his computer, from disco, techno, breakcore, drum 'n bass, samba, anything you want and gets a bunch of crazy sounds as melodies and out comes a music that some people could perhaps dance to. Not me, I never dance. But I like tapping my foot to this. Nice take on popmusic here in all its aspects. (FdW) Address:

This is not the first time that Mariska Baars (also known as Soccer Committee), Robert Deters (previously of Vance Orchestra and also of Deer Listeners) and Machinefabriek's Rutger Zuydervelt meet up. They worked together in various incarnations and they also performed live, and I saw this once, and I have good memories about it. Now that I hear 'Gris Gris', it all comes back. Starting point here is the voice of Mariska Baars. Unlike her own work she doesn't sing songs but produces some unwordly sounds, which is being picked up by the machines of Deters and Zuydervelt, who process it on the spot, adding more electronics and field recordings. Three pieces, spanning almost forty minutes of some pitched black (or should that be pitch black?) sounds. In part one the voice is the only guiding principle, whereas in part two there are also other sounds to be detected and its more alike the current Machinefabriek sound of slowly enveloping sounds in a slight rhythmic background. Guitars may play some role in part three, but then perhaps not. Here things are that their gloomiest, with deep bass sound and high pitched one on top. Excellent work throughout. Lots of tension and executed with great care. Great release. (FdW)

Following the 'jazz' releases of Hello Square reviewed elsewhere, here is also a release that has loose connections to the world of jazz. Matthew Bourne plays acoustic and electric piano, analogue synths and voice here, and brings in the element of jazz, while Franck Vigroux plays analogue synths, electroacoustic, guitar and turntables bring on the elements of strangeness in this release, making this never a strict jazz release, but more a wild and weird mixture of improvisation, noise, electro acoustic music and a just a bit of jazz. There is a substantial amount of reverb to be noted here on some of the pieces, which is a bit much, I think. The ten tracks are loaded with sounds, leaving hardly any room for the listener to breathe. That makes it not a very easy listening release. There is not just always something going, but it seems to be going on with much force. The noise lies here in the fact that its loud, but never in the feedback/distortion sense of the noise word. Great but much. A top heavy work, but when consumed in a smaller dose its certainly well digestiable. (FdW) Address:

Sometimes I just fail to understand things, but perhaps I would never release a CD and DVD, of which the DVD has the same music as the CD. Its seems to be a bit of a waste I guess? Or perhaps uneconomical? Munson is the man who produced the film part of this: dreamy sequences of landscapes, setting sun, a man lonely wondering around, images of the empty land, birds, and such images alike, sometimes processed, which seem to fit very well with the music produced by Mark Templeton. He plays guitar and banjo, along with a whole bunch of field recordings under his belt, which are all processed on the computer. In both senses, audio and video, I must admit that what I heard and saw was great, but nothing new under the sun. Nothing that struck me as odd, strange, new, or something that would provide new insight. Music and film however are well produced and work together quite well. Templeton's guitar, unprocessed plays an important, admist the crackle, buzz and hiss, which are kept into a polite corner of his soundworld, but its nicely produced in ten short pieces, which are concise and to the point and excellent produced. If micro ambient is your tea and you like some dreamy visuals to it, then I guess this is your cup of tea. (FdW) Address:

Along with this album, which can also be had in digital format, comes a limited edition version which holds the music of the LP as part of a DVD version by Lisa Slodki. Haptic is a trio of Steven Hess, Joseph Clayton Mills and Adam Sonderberg, also on 'The Medium' they get musical help from Boris Hauf, Olivia Block and Tony Buck. My copy on DVDR doesn't have any info, so I don't know where they fit in, but the music is great. A refined mixture of drone like sounds coming from, perhaps, analogue synthesizers or laptop doodling, along with the rolling thunder of cymbals on the first side and percussive rumbling on the second side. Haptic builds their pieces slowly, allowing much time to envelop, but they never take too much time. Right on time they add something new, or develop what is going on to the next level. The video part here is quite nice too, and fits the music well. Primarily in black and white, we see loops of faces and water like sounds, also slowly developing along with the music. Usually these things don't seem to go along with eachother, but Slodki uses the music as the matrix of the film. One to heard and seen in a black room I think. Beautiful stuff. (FdW) Address:

These three releases by Germany's Dekorder may be three sides of the drone coin, each operating from a different perspective. The first, the far end of noise drone land is inhabited by Campbell Kneale. We used to know and love him for his work as Birchville Cat Motel, but he has put that project to sleep and started Our Love Will Destroy The World, of which this is the first release. Four tracks, like a house, four walls of sound. The metallic ring of strings being tortured. This is loud and dirty, dirty and loud - heavy metal that those who like heavy metal would probably hate (no drums, no long hair waving around). Minimal and psychedelic, and buzzing on end. Heavy, screaming, vicious music - the long howl. Not for the weak of heart.
The name Xela first popped up in Vital Weekly 367, with a CD on Neo Oujia, which I didn't hear and then a few times on compilations. Based on what I now hear for the first time, this doesn't strike me at all as music Neo Oujia would have once released, but perhaps John Twells, for it is him behind Xela, has developed in another direction. Originally 'The Illuminated' was released by Digitalis Industries on cassette, and perhaps this may not be a drone based as the previous LP or the next 10" reviewed, this is more collage like in approach, but its through the lengthiness of these collages and its ongoing character that we could easily identify this as drone music too. Many layers of guitar sounds, bells tinkling and slightly distorted sound that 'Gilted Rose' is the standout track of the two. Dark and mysterious. A very fine and delicate piece.
Of an entirely different nature than is the record by Stephan Mathieu. He recently purchased a 1890s Phonosharp zither which he plays here with five e-bows and some computer processing. This all in tribute to the gospel preacher Washington Phillips and the early 78rpm records, of which this seems, cover wise, an exact replica. The music however doesn't sound like old 78rpm music, but is classic Mathieu material: minimal, overtones flowing around, akin to say Phill Niblock, a beautiful ringing sound, two pieces of music that seem to have falling out of the heavenly spheres. I played this immediately three times in a row, simply because there is one sad objection to this record: its way too short. That's very, very sad. I could easily done with an hour of this music. If you like Alvin Lucier but want him to be more musical, then this is the place to be. A classic, right next Niblock's 'Early Winter'. (FdW) Address:

HITOSHI KOJO - EZO (10" by Alluvial Recordings)
A few weeks ago I reviewed a record by Kodama, the collaboration between Micheal Northam and Hitoshi Kojo. The latter we know also as Spiracle, his solo outing which we reviewed before when discussing releases on Taalem and Mystery Sea. I have no idea when Spiracle is in place and when his own name applies. Especially his Taalem release seem to come close to 'Ezo'. In both he uses metal sheets or metal strings to play music that is not unlike the very early Organum 'In Extremis' sound, but whereas Organum slowed down his tapes to get his full sound, Kojo doesn't slow this tapes, but opts for a multi-layered sound. He staples as it were his material together. All sorts of possibilities to play the metal with bows are used here, but the beauty lies in the mix of the multiple sound sources. Two lovely pieces here pressed on vinyl, which have exactly the right length to maintain full interest by the listener. A fine little record, a great, daring piece of drone music, and one that is created almost acoustically. That's how these thing should be done. More I'd add. (FdW) Address:

The name might not ring immediate bells, but Wolfgang Müller's claim to fame is that he is one of the founding members of Die Tödliche Doris and a lover of birds - although no claim there yet. He is also a visual artist and has drawn pictures of extinct bird species. There are printed here in this beautiful art book, which comes along with a 7" record of artistic reinterpretation of these birds. Artists received documentation about these birds and were asked to produce the sounds for them. This is definitely art with the capital A. Some of these pieces sound like birds, while others choose to create vocalizations of those sounds or apply electronic methods. I like this a lot, simply because it sounds so weird, and even has something musical to it. Play this at your party and it will surely raise more than one eyebrow. Music here is provided by Namosh, Max Müller, Frieder Butzmann, Frederik Schikowski, Justus Köhncke, Annette Humpe, Francoise Cactus & Bretzel Göring, Nicholas Bussmann, Hartmut Andryczuk, Khan and Wolfgang Müller himself. One of the stranger things recently. (FdW) Address:

One of the stranger bands that I encounter is Volcano The Bear. I never know what to think about them. Sometimes I seem to hate them, and sometimes I just love them. Perhaps its the format here that makes me love them, perhaps its also the fact that they are a rock band in my book and that such a format just works out fine. Two fine slabs of their mutated rock music, which ends up in a sorrowful ballad on 'That People Don't Know They Are Monsters', while on the other side the mutations work out in a more krautrock version. Two strange pieces, but they work well here on this format. No hit potential of course, but in an alternative set of music would make a nice spin. (FdW) Address:

DOC WÖR MIRRAN - EDGES 3 & 4 (7" by Empty Records)
DOC WÖR MIRRAN - AMBIALL (10CDR by Empty Records)
Recently I saw announcements for a 10 CD set the Incapacitants and a 10 CDR by Ashtray Navigations, and then there is this, a 10 CDR by Doc Wör Mirran, who have already produced a massive discography and still (!) a bunch of releases under the belt to release. 'Ambiall' is release number 101, and the 7" is release number 102. There is never enough music it seems. Doc Wör Mirran is the brainchild of Joseph B. Raimond, formerly US citizen but already in Germany for such a long time that he may speak that language better now. There is started his Empty Records, who are all but empty, and the free membership band Doc Wör Mirran. People stopping by in the studio to record bits or sometimes simply send it by mail (e-mail these days I assume). On 'Ambiall' the line up is, besides Raimond, Ralf Lexis (a long term member), Adrian Gormly, Jeandra Raimond and Cedric Raimond - a family affair? Musicwise Doc Wör Mirran has been all over the place: from experimental music to punk rock, to ambient and musique concrete. Here they go back to the seventies, and I had to think of Conrad Schnitzler, both music wise and size wise of this bundle. Each of the CDRs last an hour and is filled with highly cosmic music. Outside the sky is grey and cold, inside its warm and I decided to fill my entire sunday listening to just this box, sitting in a comfortable chair, reading old music magazines - 'Flowmotion' and 'Interchange' actually, among others, which have articles on Conrad Schnitzler. Its of course not by sheer chance that I picked these from the shelf, but it was inspired by hearing this music. I was thinking that perhaps this music was recorded on (many) sunday(s) - that day of the week where nothing much happens, and a perfect time to set together behind a bunch of keyboards and let things flow for an hour. Or perhaps it was all recorded on one day, in one go, like Schnitzler could have done. No cosmic arpeggio's here, but straight forward drone like music, but each of the pieces have a great flow, and never stands still. It always moves about, changing shapes and colors, and makes one damn easy listening music. While drizzle reaches the window and the daylight slowly disappears - I started at around noon - I keep light sparse. I can still read, but not much more light is required. At around 22:00 I am done with this. Great. Beautiful. Massive. Will I be able to hear it again? With the listening habits of a reviewer that is hard to say, but yeah, why not? Perhaps a box to pack up when going for a beach holiday. Different environment that will surely make another fine round of lazy listening.
The next day, slowly recovering from the 10 CDR set, I play the 7", which is this time Joseph B. Raimond solo, and here he shows what can be done in such a short time frame. Also entirely electronic, Raimond plays around with loops of material and jams around on another synth. Not as drone ambient as the ten previous hours, but more experimental and haunting music. Improvised electronic space jam, limited to the size of the 7", which works out very nicely. (FdW) Address:

Someone compared the music of Katapulto on 'Bodyhammer' with 'Poland's answer to Senor Coconut combined with the demented invention of Yello's Boris Blank', which is good: I like Senor Coconut and I like Boris Blank. Wojtek Rusin is Katapulto, original from Poland, now in Bristol and he plays popmusic of a modern kind. Armed with a guitar, flute and synthesizers he sings his songs. Five in total in twenty minutes. More Blank than Coconut, but even more someone like Felix Kubin, which seems to be a more obvious point of reference. Germanic influenced popmusic in full force here. Jumpy, all over the place, both in rhythm and melody, but also using various styles, voice cut ups, and singing. My Robot Friend is another point of reference I thought of, but doesn't have yet his refinement. Katapulto is still raw and untamed, which is also quite nice and works well here. Five tracks, twenty minutes, which leave a solid impression. I would hope his live shows are as good as this: if he's around I would certainly check him out. (FdW) Address:

MECHA/ORGA - 50:01 (CDR by Echo Music)
Hot on the heels of '61:50', reviewed only two weeks ago, here is a new release by Yiorgis Sakellariou, also known as Mecha/Orga, probably more an incident than that Mecha/Orga joins the ranks of Merzbow or Machinefabriek. Three pieces here, each around fourteen to eighteen minutes. The music by Mecha/Orga is minimal - there is not always much change in them. That doesn't mean its always soft. The source material is perhaps something he found outside, but in his computer treatments nothing as such can be traced back to something you may have heard outside. In '17:02' this might have been the sound of motorized vehicles, but maybe not. Its quite a loud piece, and perhaps a bit too minimal. The pieces before and after that sound like they have been recorded near the sea, but then it could have been as easily hiss from cassettes or TV static. Its not really important, but these two pieces are great. Both are being built up in a slow manner, with small but essential changes in the sound, adding new sounds of similar source to the whole and building into an intense work. Two names that sprang to mind here, with a similar approach to field recordings, treatments and composition were Francisco Lopez and Kozo Inada (whatever happened to him, I wonder). Two great pieces and one that is nice but too long. (FdW)

Both of these new Black Petal releases deal with the music of Mark Sadgrove. Solo as MHFS and in duo with labelboss Anthony Guerra. Although MHFS is mainly solo he gets help from various people (Andrew Scott, Ben Spiers and Sam Hamilton) in seven of the ten short pieces. Lyrics were written while driving a car through rural New Zealand, and then record the songs on battery powered electric guitar on a dictaphone. How lo(fi) can you go? Sadgrove strums his guitar and sings songs which I don't really understand, but there is an attractive low, outsider character with these recordings that I like very much. At just under thirty minutes this is very fine music. Was this released on a limited LP twenty years ago, it would now go as a lost classic of weirdness.
On a real CD comes his duo with Anthony Guerra, who plays electric and acoustic guitar, electronics and vocals and Sadgrove playing electric guitar, aluminium harp, electronics and vocals. Here more care has been used to make the recordings. Recorded in their new homeland Japan, this is the point where improvised music meets singer songwriting. This is 'easy' music, music that makes your mind wander off, into the grey sky, into the desert, or into the deep sea. Blues like emptiness, very empty. Drone like strumming, slide guitar setting the tone. Vocals don't take a big place around here and are more to underline the desolate character of the music. A fine release of sparse sounds. Minimal indeed. Great covers on both releases, as usual with Black Petal. (FdW) Address:

SIMON WHETHEM - UNDERSTORY (web release by Trente Oiseaux)
The development of the Trente Oiseaux label went past by me. Only when one of the artists cared to send me a promo copy I noticed it still existed. Since I received a new release by Simon Whethem on Trente Oiseaux, I looked at the website again, and noticed that the label changed from releasing CDs to CDRs and now does only web only releases, where for 10 euros you can choose between AAC, FLAC, MP3 or OGG format. Perhaps it is indeed the tune of the future. Whethem's 'Understory' was created as part of a 'two week residency based in the Amazon rainforest region of Brazil and run by Francisco Lopez'. The understory is 'the area between the canopy and the forest floor, also known as the shrub layer'. This work is however not about the scratching the rainforest floor with a microphone, but a fine and delicate work with sounds from rainforest. A place that I never visited, so perhaps a bit hard to relate too, but the buzzing of insects, the crackling of leaves and the processed sounds of a plane flying over, make this a work that stretches out beyond the usual field recordings work. For Whetham it seems to be the starting point of creating a composition, rather than the pure joy of listening and both of course are fine. Whetham's composition stretches out over thirty-four minutes, with carefully processed sounds and original field recordings mingled together. A tense piece of music telling us a great story. Great music for an imaginary film. (FdW) Address:

The complete Vital Weekly is available at: Vital Weekly

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