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Vital Weekly 667

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DISKREPANT - EX MACHINA LIBERTAS (CD by Fractured Spaces Records)
Over the course of four years Per Ahlund, also known as Diskrepant has released four albums, of which 'Ex Machina Libertas' is the last one. The start, a split release with Des Esseintes was a pretty noisy one, but he quickly turned to more quieter music on '33-12' and 'Into Sleep', which get a following on this new one. Like its two predecessors, the sound here is based on field recordings, analogue and digital sound synthesis, concrete sounds, which are melted together. Moulded perhaps is a better word. This music of AI - ambient industrial as well as artificial intelligence. Music from a darker corner of the world, the word underground where a laboratory of aliens create sub humans. Dark rumble in this dark laboratory - why would aliens need light - and some repeated action, which forms a rhythmic loop at one point. Excellent dark atmospheric ambient music, with nothing much new under this particular black sun, but it makes a fine listening round. Very Swedish in packaging, and in terms of dark music, one could say this is the more intelligent brother of some of the Cold Meat Industry bands. (FdW) Address:

MERZBOW - SOMEI (CD by Low Impedance Recordings)
MERZBOW - CAMOUFLAGE (CD by Essence Music)
About three weeks ago I reviewed 'Hodosan' by Merzbow, which showed his love for drums, or perhaps a return to the drums he once started to play in the formative days of his career, but its not an one-off move, as for 'Somei' he chooses the same route. Or perhaps, in good Merzbow traditions, never do anything once you can do more. I was quite surprised to see this released on a label that is better known for electronic rhythms, technoid music and darker ambient courses, but hey why not have Masami Akita banging the drums, along with his fine line of feedback and distortion. His drums are in total free spirit here, free jazz its best. Like with 'Hodosan' its absolutely unclear what came first - the drums or the noise, or whether the drums respond to the electronics, or the electronics go, in perfect synchronization, with drums. Kinda like the Silver Apples once did with some different result. I wrote on 'Hodosan', 'another small alley opened', but perhaps it would have been better to say, 'another motorway opened'. This is another fine CD. For all those who read this and mumble 'but why would need another Merzbow CD', I'd say 'quite right, you don't, but then would you need a CD by anybody at all'? No doubt the true devotees marched to the e-stores already.
No drums on 'Camouflage', also a new Merzbow release, his second from the Brazilian label Essence Music. Unlike 'Somei' or 'Hodosan' there is no list of equipment mentioned on the cover. This seems to me the 'old' (but what is 'old' here?) Merzbow of EMS synthi-A plus lots of sound effects. Three long tracks - which made me think: lots of Merzbow releases have three tracks - of earpiercing electronics. In a world of so many Merzbow releases, I can imagine that this will mostly appeal to all those fans who simply can't get enough, and there are many fans who can't get enough, of this long form psychedelic noise music, but to be honest, it doesn't add much to what we already now. I am no longer that true dedicated fan I must admit, and therefore only hear what lands here, but when it does I find myself immersed as before in Merzbow's music. Great as always, but then so did the previous 200 CDs. (FdW)

As Jasper TX, Swedish musician Dag Rosenqvist released four previous albums, none of which were reviewed here. The only time his name popped up in these pages, was when we reviewed his two collaborations with Rutger Zuydervelt/Machinefabriek. But perhaps it was something to go by, since what he does here bares resemblance to those collaborations. Rosenqvist likes his guitar as much as he likes his laptop. He records his guitar, treats it, but then he also likes to hear us how his guitar sounds. Throughout these pieces we hear the guitar which sounds as a guitar, sometimes present and clear, such as in 'Into The Sea', but then at other times also totally unrecognizable. He adds a little bit of field recordings, but mainly, at least that's what I think, its build from his guitar and various manipulations. The press text mentions the fact that Rosenqvist's music resemblances paintings, layer over layer. I'd like to add: take two colors and mix them on end, but use all the various stages of mixing the colors. That's what I think Rosenqvist does. He records one or two pieces of guitar and then starts fiddling around by whatever means, to present an endresult that is built from these variations, along with the two original recordings - or any multiply from that of course. A mighty fine work, that no doubt appeals to fans to Machinefabriek, with whom I can see much resemblance. Micro ambient glitch guitar. A truly fine work, if perhaps not always the biggest surprise. (FdW) Address:

The warning was already in advance, by Sam Hamilton himself, about the cover, and I agree, it doesn't look good. That is a great pity, since the music deserved much more than some childish paintings over photographs. Better turn the cover inside and look that the titles and the various sources used per track. The opening piece with the long title 'Old Gravel Roads Winding Out into The Dark Night Of The Countryside' is a damn fine work, with farfisa organ, computer, tenor horn, xaphoon, circuit bending and electrical hum, and spirals like a wicked Reich minimal chant. Very computer minded (Ableton Live perhaps), but has that nice interrupted 'Four Organs' sound. This idea gets a repeat in the following piece 'Epoch Of Snares', with different instruments, in a different, less joyous mood, but with the same spiraling idea. Then follows two quite short tracks in which guitars play a big role and then more longer tracks, which hark back to the minimalism of the first two tracks, but don't seem to have the same strength of the opening pieces (which actually span two-third of the entire CD), but are in a more sadder mood, although the jungle sounds of 'March In April/Andrews Eternal Birthday' make a very nice addition. As a whole I thought the CD was pretty good, working around a specific way of creating music by using small loops in phase shifting, worked out in different ways, and as such works out consistently by Sam Hamilton and makes a very solid work. The best is at the beginning. (FdW)
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Not well-known perhaps, but Mika Vainio likes to collaborate with other musicians, outside Pan Sonic. I once saw him with Keij Hanio, blasting away with noise, making the ears buzz for some time after that. So teaming up with Lucio Capece is perhaps not as strange as suggested by Mego, certainly since Capece is a man who likes forceful music too, played on his soprano saxophone, bass clarinet, preparations, mixer sax feedback and scruti box. Vainio is behind his electronics, electric guitar and cymbal. Vainio lays down the electronics which form a concrete floor for the saxophone of Capece to bounce of on. Loud, vicious, heavy drone like sound, with an occasional spark creating that vague trace of Pan Sonic, which are kept to a minimum. Yet this isn't a noise record, or at least not a lot. The two improvise their pieces, leave much room for the other to play his music, while never losing the total sound out of sight. The middle part, tracks five to seven, are pretty strong pieces, mainly due to their more quiet character. In 'Sahalaitainen' hell breaks loose and get a Pan Sonic like sound and heavy feedback saxophone treatments. Capece and Vainio have managed to create a CD full of tension and variety, from the soft to the loud, from heavily composed to more loosely improvised pieces. A work of refined noise. I don't think I expected something else from them. (FdW)

Russia's Monochrome Vision specializes in new works of old masters from the good old industrial music scene, and as such they have quite a strong catalogue. Of these three releases, I gather PBK and Telepherique are the best known, simply because they have been going since many years under the same name. Reading their discographies is like a who's who of industrial music and a catalogue of label names. Their music, solo or in collaboration, doesn't sound like industrial music these days, nor true noise, but highly atmospheric, moody and dark. 'Noise ambient' is indeed a fine term for such music. Ambient industrial the fanzines read in the late 80s. They plough their way through the extensive use of analogue and digital keyboards, playing stretched and sustaining sounds, with small rhythmical loops underpinning these desolate fields. Minimalist drone scapes and rusty samples. It seems as if not much water has passed under the bridge. No extended laptop techniques, over use of plug ins, and everything might be retro for these boys, but its executed with great and style here.
Maybe the Japanese names mean not much right away, but Mizutani was once the second member of Merzbow (in the 80s and on their first Europe tour in 1989), Kuwayama is better known as Lethe and Shimada is perhaps the most obscure player here, but in the 80s he released two LPs as Agencement, later followed by two CDs, in 1991 and 2001. I thought he entirely disappeared, but his four works are still cherished here. Actually he might be gone away, since the recording on this CD was made in concert in 2001 and remixed by Kuwayama in 2008. He plays here contact microphone and handmade electronics, Shimada plays violin and live electronics, and Mizutani feedback and drumstick. Like expected, this is a work of improvisation and not an easy one. Their prime interest seems to be to play with 'loose' sounds, unconnected to whatever, save only for the part of feedback that hangs around some of the sounds. This is music that requires one full attention and utmost concentration of the listener. Its a refined work, a delicacy with a great taste, but for acquired lovers.
Somehow I wouldn't lump Tomas Philips and Dean King in with the 'old boys network', simply because both started releasing their material in the 90s and not the 80s. Philips has released music on labels as Line, and/OAR, Non Visual Objects, Petite Sono and has worked with i8u and Dean King as Eto Ami. I don't know why this is released as Philips/King and not Eto Ami, but surely there is a good reason. These two operate from an entirely different perspective than the others on the two previous releases. This is silent music, almost Lopez like in terms of silence. You have to turn the volume up quite a bit to hear anything at all. The world of laptops and plug-ins, of highly processed field recordings, of crackles and hiss. Here too much attention is required before it unfolds its beauty, as things work slow, soft and in a highly minimalist vein. From the world of Roel Meelkop, Marc Behrens and Richard Chartier, this is closest to the latter. Wide spun sounds, soft but deep, this is a fine work of microsound. Nothing new as such but done with superb class. (FdW) Address:

No doubt its the weather that makes me having a weak spot for the music of Wicked Messenger. Suppose it would be nice, sunny, springtime weather, I think I would have a great difficulty with the music presented here. It must have been years since I last heard Lustmord's Heresy (although I can be spotted wearing a Lustmord T-shirt every now and then), but Martin Kränzel (once the founder of Cross Fade Enter Tainment with Christoph de Babalon), the man behind Wicked Messenger is perhaps someone who studied this prime example of dark ambient music to the core, and applies that knowledge to his own music. I didn't, although I remember liking 'Heresy' - back then. The slowed down voices, the samples, slow orchestral movements and the (over-)use of reverb, make this freighting music, the perfect soundtrack to a nightmare, or the perfect soundtrack to a Hollywood b-movie - and see where Lustmord went! Like said, I don't think this is an album you would put on your MP3 player before going to the beach, but on ash grey winter day this is the perfect soundtrack. Nothing new under this black sun, but executed with great care and haunting style. (FdW) Address:

ARC - GLASSINE 1 (CD by A Silent Place)
The Japanese 'Ankoku' means 'deep darkness' and its the title of a collaboration between the for me unknown Ramona Ponzini, her voice and her collection of traditional percussion, bells and cymbals from Japan along with Z'EV, who gets credit for 'rendering, recoding and some percussions'. That is along his recent work in which he collaborates, studio-wise with others, such as on 'Forwaard' and 'Outwaard'. Z'Ev takes apart the original recordings, stretches them and treats them further using the computer. The end result is more Z'EV than Ponzini I would assume, because throughout things buzz and hum, like just Z'EV does these days. The stretches he makes on the original music are quite elegant, refined and dark, atmospheric. The element of percussion moves out of sight here, but the end result is subtle shimmering work of great refined ambient bliss.
Its been a while since we last heard Arc, the trio of Aidan Baker (guitars, woodwinds, percussion), Richard Baker (drumkit, percussion) and Christopher Kukiel (electronic percussion). In fact about four years since 'The Circle Is Not Round' (see Vital Weekly 503), but no doubt we have missed a bunch of releases in the mean time. The recordings here were made at the 'Ambient Ping' in Toronto, already in 2006, but released last year by A Silent Place (not the quickest to send promo's, if at all). Four tracks that span an hour's worth of music. If Z'EV offers dark ambient music than Arc offers fourth world ambient music, in which percussion does play an important role. A Silent Place mentions a bunch of names to compare it with, and I think, well, yeah, Ash Ra Temple, Popol Vuh, Pink Floyd (area Ummagumma), AMP, Flying Saucer Attack, well yeah that might all be very nice, but there was one name in their list which made me think: yes, that is spot on! If Arc resembles anything than it must be that their are the the 21st century follow up to O Yuki Conjugate (which are all but buried actually). This is like hearing 'Undercurrents' or 'Peyote', two early classics of O Yuki Conjugate. Dream like, percussive and improvised, but always keeping a close ear to the overall structure what everybody is doing. That results in some great refined ambient music. High and mighty flowing ambient music, lots of percussion, ethnic flutes and lots of swirling electronics. No innovation in this world, but a damn fine disc. (FdW)

These two records look like a self-released one from the late eighties, or perhaps some lost one from the catalogue of RRRecords: thick sturdy white cover with sticker glued on them. Hot Releases is a new label for fanzines, vinyl and tapes run by Ryan Martin and Jeff Rehnlund. I never heard of American Band, a trio of Lee Counts, Matt Franco, Jason Crumer. They are a noise band, even when the first side (or perhaps the side I called 'a-side'), starts out with a nice piece of tin foil being crushed in a bath of reverb, and then a Laibachian piece for samples strings. The rest of this side and the opening of the other side is all about harsh noise, in the best Merzbow tradition. Nice, but something worn out. Then it ends with another piece of dark rumble and high pitched sound on top, which is again pretty nice. Even with the noise included I like this record for its sheer variation in noise, showing what more it can be than just a bunch of distortion.
Music by Jeff Rehnlund himself was released before on CDR by Hymns and RRRecords, at least those we reviewed were. Apparently for this LP 'Gangnam Basement' he went to Korea to make it. Which in Rehlund's book means: go out with a dictaphone and record whatever strange sound you come across, preferable it is already a bit distorted when you recorded it, to further work with it, by mixing four or more of these recordings together, when the master is compiled on cassette. It may sound like I don't like this, or perhaps think its all too lo-fi, but its not the case. Rehnlund doesn't belong to those who play the noise for noise's sake game, but his collages of sound, mildly distorted, multi-layered, totally obscured field recordings (street? pinball machines? TV?) are quite crude but at the same time also witty and funny and not just a bunch of noise attacks. That makes this album perhaps a bit long for both sides of similar approaches, but throughout a fine work. (FdW) Address:

The only thing I know about Barbados is what I learned from '24 Hour Party People': no heroin but plenty of crack - its not the isle of man. Surely not the reason why Micheal Peters went there in 2004 to make these two long field recordings. In the liner notes of 'Giant Bamboo', Peters says he was drinking coffee, which is a long shot away from the Happy Mondays. Both pieces are self-explanatory. In 'Giant Bamboo' he recorded a bamboo tree, along with some green monkeys having lunch, whereas in the opening piece 'Whistling Tree Frogs', he recorded a chorus of 'a million tiny whistling tree frogs', singing in palm trees, along with wind sounds and sea waves of the Atlantic Ocean. As simple and clear as that. Both pieces have the exact same length, which I thought was quite odd, and are at their best ambient music pieces - sound that surrounds you in your environment. A very fine CD and one that satisfied me more than his recent 'Impossible Music' release (see Vital Weekly 665). (FdW) Address:

A split release by an Australian outfit named xNObbQx, being Mike Earle on guitar and Nick Dan on drums and the Italian noise outfit Harshcore, also a duo of Luca Sigurta on electronic junk, tapes, analogic devices and Tommaso Derica on bass, electronics, trumpet and voice. xNObbQx play demented rock music: loud, dirty free rock in which rules don't exist and the only thing that counts is to play loud and dirty, without previous knowledge on either how to play an instrument or what else has been done in this kind of music. But the direct in your face recording is quite nice, although perhaps it would be even better to witness this in a live concert. The exact placement of the microphone right in the middle of the stage however makes up quite nicely.
Harshcore are also in fine shape here, with shorter pieces than their Australian friends, and don't live up to their 'harsh' name. They create more collage like sounds in which they reveal a love for old Throbbing Gristle, area 'Heathen Earth'. Bass and trumpet make that pretty evident, but its a sound that is hardly copied by others, so its alright I guess. Harshcore leaves the noise aside which is great, since they proof they can do so much better in music that is related to noise, and actually create small pieces of 'real' music. That's the way to go! (FdW)

The 'liner' notes on this package are so small that even with a pair of glasses its hard to see what it says. If I understood well, also by looking at the website, both bands are by the same people, Nina Canell and Robin Watkins, who work as The New Heat, Obscured by Light, Luftkluster or Luftfluks. The two CDRs are relatively short, around twenty minutes each, which is hardly a surprise when this is also released on vinyl by CAFF/FLICK. As The Brilliant Light they have three tracks of guitar music, water dripping, saxophone, hydrophone, radio and percussion, along with much more. They play some very interesting singer songwriting stuff, vaguely tribal in approach in 'Red Earth' and poetry like in 'Moto The Black Dog'. Minimal songs that take their time to expand. Very nice.
As Champagne Diamond they have even more tracks to offer, six to be precise, in a shorter time frame. They are listed first on the cover, so perhaps this is their main project. This is more conventional singer songwriting stuff, of double tracked singing, guitars, sometimes distorted, and some reversed tapes playing around. This is more rock based music, less adventurous than on The Brilliant Light, but through some haze and hiss, fuzz and distortion, also quite enjoyable. Champagne Diamond struck me as a bit too sketchy in approach, and it could have used a bit more working on the compositions. More alike music on Static Caravan, if you need a corner to stick this in. The Brilliant Light is favorite of the two, but both are quite nice. (FdW) Address:

From Norway, this is their version of the big
band experimental line up, like Mimeo or Plains. Here its the meeting (free floating membership actually) of Roar Borge, Kjetil Hanssen, Terje Paulsen, Arnfinn Killingtveit, Willy Kopperud and labelboss Jan-M Iversen. This CDR reflects the second time they played together and also their second live concert - meaning of course that the first concert was their first time together. In around thirty or so minutes they improvise around a drone. Everybody brings something to the table, even when it is not clear what that is, at least not from this point of view. Somehow I think Lydhode is a laptop band. The thirty minutes are densely shaped, with minimalist changes and slow moves, dark and atmospheric. Its quite a captivating piece. Hard to hear that they haven't played that much but each of the band members have at least more than other projects under their belt, so that may explain things.
Arnfinn Killingtveit for instance we also know as Swamps Up Nostrils, which is not music wise my cup of tea, at least not always, but what he does on the silly titled 'E.T. Drone Home' is actually the best I heard from him. Like the title implies this is all about drone music. Of the deeper and darker kind. Processed organ sounds, pitched a few octaves down, lots of filtering to get more bass end out - even more bass end - and sound effects to make things even more chillier. Isolationist music for sure, and perhaps Swamps Up Nostrils should have either put a bit more variation in or leave off 3 or 4 pieces to make a very strong release, but like I said, this is easily his strongest release to date.
Also part of Lydhode is Torstein Wjiik, otherwise known as Kjetil Hanssen, who runs the Ambolthue label. He too is normally a man of noise, but on 'Mogleg' he keeps the action a bit more subdued. And action it is. Much alike Lydhode, Wjiik plays his music on the spot. Backed by tape of drone like sounds, he improvises on top with a bunch of contact microphones scratching the surface and with one attached to his throat to pick up some 'vocal' sounds. Maybe its sound poetry, these days or perhaps its a tribute to the late Henri Chopin? The noise and feedback are kept to a strict minimum, which makes the more 'experimental' side of things come out much better. Way to go, I'd say. More of this, as the noise is worn out by now. (FdW)

Before reading the press text I usually play a CD first. Of course I know what I am playing, but the finer points I read later. So I was thinking that the twenty minutes here was just one track created as the fruit of a collaboration between these two bands from down under. Seaworthy we already heard on various releases for 12K and not from their other releases (on Black Lodge Audio, Fat Cat, 555, Marino etc.) while Scissor Lock seems to be a new name (despite releases on Hellosquare, Sound & Fury, Monstera Deliciosa, Curt and La Main Gauce). Its the project one Marcus Whale from Sydney. But it turns out that both projects have one track each here, albeit with strong similarities. Seaworthy has a ten minute of glacier like ice-mass shift. Slow and peaceful. Highly, no, utter and total ambient bliss. A very fine piece. Scissor Lock plays around with loops of guitar, voice and clarinet (apparently), and is more open, with a bit more light shining through. Its perhaps a bit less coherent than Seaworthy, but both tracks fit together pretty well. Quite nice microscopic ambience music. (FdW) Address:

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