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Vital Weekly 673

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Blue Sanct is a small label from Bloomington. They are existing since 1995, releasing mainly experimental music and disjointed folk music. After a period of silence the label returns with a CD by Caethua. Caethua is New York-born Claire Hubbard. She works with several different musical identities and Caethua is her primary one. Lo-fi musical experimentations within the song-format seems to be her territory as Caethua. Usually I am not very fond of low profile singer-songwriter works. But Caethua gives her work some unusual and surprising twists that make it very worthwhile. All of her songs make original use of field-recordings and sounds. This is the case for example in the title-track 'Village of the Damned'. On the one hand an acoustic folksong, but because of the typical 'orchestration' it because more then just that. In 'Burning Yarrow' she leaves the songstructures completely behind her, for creating a beautiful ambient piece. Likewise 'Retreat' is a nice soundscaping work. Also the alternation of songs and soundscapes work very well. She creates dark atmospheres and melancholy moods using field recordings, haunting melodies and slow drones. The music sounds as coming from a far undefined distance. The nine tracks breath a poetic feel and have nicely colored orchestrations. If I have to guess most of what we hear is created and played by Caethua herself a solo work, implying that it came into being through multitracking layer upon layer. She sings with a characteristic voice. Her guitarplaying is far from virtuoso, but she manages it to let it sound at times with some original coloring. Almost like a lute, like in the beginning of 'Playing Dead' or 'Black Water'. (Dolf Mulder) Address:

ILYAS AHMED - GONER (CD by Root Strata)
The name Zach Wallache popped up before since he is part of Sun Circle, along with Greg Davis and they have had various releases. Here he plays an instrument of his own make, the Armonica, entirely built from wine glasses found in thrift stores and played by various people at the same time. The three pieces here is all recorded live and acoustic, with no edits, dubs or added effects. Filled with varying amounts of water, they glasses, when rubbed with your fingers on the top, create various pitches, loosely based on a system created by Benjamin Franklin in 1761. This is an excellent recording (made by Warn Defever) at The Gallery Project, Ann Arbor, Michigan, of sustaining sounds. Hard to believe its all acoustic and no editing, since it sounds like lots of ringing electronic overtones of acoustic objects, with some astounding results. It rings and rings and makes some great acoustic drone music. A heavenly work.
The press text for Ilyas Ahmed tells us to forget all we know about him. I'd love to, but I never heard of him anyway. So 'Goner' is my introduction to his music. I can't say I particularly like this kind of music, singing, guitar playing, in some distorted, psychedelic manner, but I must say there is something that kept me playing this CD (and it wasn't laziness to switch to something else). I kept thinking it sounded retro like, like something from an era that I never studied that well. A bit of stoner rock singer song writer. Its quite in your face what he does, without much intimacy that you would normally think of with singer-songwriters. That I thought seemed like a nice thing and something I don't hear that much. Perhaps because I am not too familiar with this kind, but it sounded compelling enough to play this at least twice in a row as a starter. (FdW) Address:

PAWN - KITCHEN (CD by Symbolic Interaction)
KONNTINENT - DEGREES, INTEGERS (CD by Symbolic Interaction)
JOSEPH AUER - FREO (CD by Symbolic Interaction)
Symbolic Interaction is a Japanese label established in 2007. The focus of the label is first of all downbeat electronic music and ambient with an experimental edge to it. In the fall of 2008 I reviewed four albums from the label, all four of a very high musical quality. Three new albums from Symbolic Interaction has seen the light of the day. First album reviewed is a new release in the Pragmetism Series where the discs are housed in slick ejector case with cover-art covering half the size of front, a quite original package in itself. The album is by the Japanese sound artist Hideki Umezawa composing under his alias Pawn. His album titled "Kitchen" consists of four lush pieces from the composer himself and four remixes by three different artists. The original works on the album are very gentle in expression combining electro acoustic sounds with clicking pulses. Dominating part of the works are the tones of a musical box creating a friendly and quite beautiful feeling on the album. The remix by the composer calling himself Chib stays true to the gentle sounds of the original works, meanwhile the next two remixers, Fjordne and Geskia, adds some more club-based grooves in their contributions. Another excellent release in the Pragmetism Series! Having a quite different to ambient expression next album is just as beautiful though. Behind the name Konntinent, you find british composer Antony Harrison. Present album titled "Degrees, integers" is a nice digipack release with an atmospheric artwork of a rainbow sky. The musical expression seems like balancing between light expressions and more mellow atmospheres. The music is built on slow moving melancholic soundscapes with nice electronic tunes moving along.
There is a great cinematic feeling saturating the album with an otherworldly feeling to it. Beautiful work. Last release reviewed here, comes from the U.S. born artist, Joseph Auer, who lives and works in Tokyo. He has quite a large discography behind, mostly CDRs but also a proper CD album on his own label Rednetic Recordings. Present album titled "Freo", thus is his second proper CD-album. Compared to the aforementioned releases Joseph Auer's album is rhythm-based with less focus on the ambient-expression. The eight tracks featured on the album are catchy and easy listenable with midtempo breakbeat-textures moving along melodic synth-tunes. Stylishly the expression reminds me of 4Hero's side project Jacob's Optical Stairway with the jazzy grooves integrated in a listen-friendly drum'n'bass-soundsphere. A very nice contrast to the more ambient-exclusive first albums. With these three new albums Symbolic Interaction label owner, Kentaro Togawa, once again proves his ability of capturing new interesting artists of the electronic music scene. Address:

AF URSIN - AIKA (LP by La Scie Doree)
Timo van Luijk, the man behind Af Ursin, is slowly getting into a busy bee. Metaphon is an organisation that promotes concerts and releases music. Last year, too late now for Vital Weekly, they released a great four CD boxset by Baudouin Oosterlynck, which was a sort of outsider in the Belgium music life. His music deals with part improvisation of percussive music on objects and some pieces dealing with voice and/or electronics. Not every track by Oosterlynck is great but these four CDs give a great impression of what he did in the years 1975-1978. An extensive booklet and beautiful box tops of this release. But that is not the subject of this review. We are dealing with a brand new record by Timo van Luijk, also known as Af Ursin and together with Raymond Dijkstra, Asra. Timo handed me his record at their recent concert in Extrapool, and told me a few things to note. All of the package is handmade. He reversed old gate fold record sleeves and printed them by hand. Inner sleeves as well as the plastic outer sleeve are all re-used. He also mentioned that the record may sounded like a bad pressing, but its just the addition of extra hiss and crackles in the music. It seems that everything about this record is old, and Van Luijk also had his grandmother contribute voice. This record, the music that is on it, is not from these times. It just isn't. Af Ursin plays music that sounds 'old', like browsing sepia toned photographs from, well, why not, your grandparents. Piano, saxophones, drums, percussion, the voice, some extra crackles, hardly any electronics around here (if any at all), although in a piece like 'Sortilege' I am not too sure of that. Recorded on analogue tape, obviously, this is truly a beautiful record. Nothing new, but aged beauty. (FdW)
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Perhaps a lengthy introduction, but please bear with me. On Friday 27 March 2009 Extrapool Nijmegen staged another one of their "Audiotoop" evenings. The idea of Audiotoop is that artists from various disciplines create a radio play especially composed for the evening of the performance. This Audiotoop saw a performance of Edward Ka-spel and Silverman (of the Legendary Pink Dots) who staged spoken word pieces with added soundscapes created by Silverman. Quite wonderful. After their performance ASRA was next; a collaboration between Timo van Luijk and Raymond Dijkstra. I was really looking forward to their performance as I hold both musicians in high esteem. The stage was scattered with a lot of small acoustic instruments, a piano and a tuba. Together they performed the best live set I have heard in a long time. Beautiful, spacious music with respect for all individual sounds and both performers. The reason for this introduction is the fact that that night I bought the new Raymond Dijkstra LP L'opus CH. Another reason is that when I came home and played the record the following day, something of the magic of that performance appeared to be also etched in the grooves of this record. I have all Raymond Dijkstra LP's so I know his music well. For un-initiated ears his records might sound "all the same", but that is not the case. His music carefully and gradually develops and Dijkstra documents this process in his records. Interestingly enough this works well. L'opus CH (attractively packed in a handmade cover; made of old newspaper fragments stuck to the cover) is a new step in Dijkstra's development. The instruments used on this album include piano and tuba amongst his more regular set up. More relaxed, more open than ever this is one of my favorite records from the past few months. Not just a record for those "in the know", but certainly one for everyone who appreciates beautiful music. As only 50 copies were pressed, I suggest a certain haste in contacting his label Le Souffleur. (Freek Kinkelaar) Address:

For whatever reason I am not entirely sure of Maurizio Bianchi hooked up with Siegmar Fricke a lot since he returned to recording new music again. Fricke always seems to have something to do with the music of Bianchi, whether or not it is a collaboration, mastering, mixing or post production. Here on 'Makrokosmikro' its a collaboration with Bianchi getting credit for 'macrowaves, cosmotronics, microloops' and Fricke for 'mactronics, cosmodulations, microblending', which I am sure they have had a fun time thinking of. And I guess it also says something about the music too. The music they play is perhaps the nightmare version of the old seventies German cosmic music. The cold, alienated soundscapes, the empty industrial sites and the post nuclear landscape: those are the images that spring to mind when one hears this music. Made with analogue and digital sound synthesis, lots of sound effects, which might count for the cosmic aspect of this music. Maybe in the final piece, the title piece, things come a bit closer to the original world of cosmic music, but I must say that this nightmare version is one that I quite enjoy. Both ambient and industrial, and an excellent recording of it, make it a great constant flow of things, which never has a dull moment. Among the various things they already recorded, this is one of the best so far. (FdW)

SERVICE SPECIAL - NORD (CDR by Steelkraft Manufactory)
IRRUMATORIUM - ALSO SPRACH MY ASS (CDR by Steelkraft Manufactory)
HIKIKOMORI (CDR by Steelkraft Manufactory)
Three new releases on Steelkraft Manufactory and in all three analogue synthesizers seem to be playing a role, but in three different ways. First we have the one band Service Special from Sebastien Schmit, who is a member of K-Branding. His music is mostly rhythm based, on old synthesizers and it has a nice retro feel about it, harking back to the days of the 80s were people with one synth, some delay pedals and a microphone produced crude electro-pop music. It has that same cold minimal music feel to it, and Service Special worked best for me, when it goes the full circle and when he incorporates his voice. When that is gone and the rhythm shut off, then things aren't as good and remain a bit thin. Which means that some half of the tracks weren't my cup of tea, but the others were pretty nice.
Irrumatorium is influenced by the ready-mades of Marcel Duchamp, the international situationism, the book Fight Club, the Occam's razor principle, the inexplicable missing of The Gerogerigegege but it sure beats me why you would want to call your release 'Also Sprach My Ass', also depicted on the cover? It sounds quite silly. He records his synth based music directly onto two tracks and then edits out what is a piece of music. Despite the silly title I must admit that I thought some of these tracks were pretty good. The rhythms here reveal an interest in early industrial music, think old Nocturnal Emissions, early Esplendor Geometrico but has a much cleaner recording to it and the rest of synthesizer like a bad cosmic trip, but then in a nice way.
'No living life form was harmed during the recording of this album', it says for Hikikomori, who hail from Tours en France. The label describes as dark ambient/ritual music project, but I thought it was the strongest of the three releases here. He (they?) use synthesizers too but to create a deep atmospheric feel and most likely it seems to me also some computer processing is going on here. Like insects crawling over the floor, this music is on the move, always and everywhere. Sound effects aren't sparse around here, and it does make the music very vibrant. A dense, creepy atmosphere surrounds these recordings, which also includes the use of 'forensic tools', to add to the mysterious waves around here. Nothing pleasant as such, but certainly an intense work. (FdW)

A while you may have seen an announcement for gigs by Staplerfahrer in the Basque country. 'Ruido Experimental' is a thirteen minute piece recorded in Bilbo and it may seem a bit odd for someone like Staplerfahrer to have just one piece released from such a tour, as I assume a lot of what he does is improvised, but for whatever reason he is fond of this piece to release it by itself. The piece starts with line/cable hum, which gets transformed as part of the music. After a while there is the sound of a camera/light/flash thing which takes the listener into the second part of the piece, which builts into a high and mighty noise crescendo, which must have shattered the audience to piece. But there is applause so it must have been well received. Quite a blast from sheer silence to a storm of noise. Nice one. (FdW)

If you released as much as Aidan Baker (either solo or with others, such as Arc) then sometimes a release like 'The Sun Is Bleeding & Has Black Hands' is sometimes quite handy. It contains one disc of Baker's own music and one of Arc's, with releases that were previously available as CD, CDR, MP3 and compilations, and this is value for money: two times eighty minutes of music. So, this is your chance to get that one CDR you never bought, or the proper format of that MP3. Baker's solo part has seven tracks of lengthy guitar drone music, using the loop device to quite some extent and things wave and wash nicely about here. One track is on offer with Arc, Baker's trio with Richard Baker an Christopher and Kukiel, which is, without mocking, Aidan Baker plus percussion and the ambient patterns created here are with quasi tribal rhythms, flutes, tablas and such like. I think I would have like it more like this: Baker/Arc/Baker/Arc on two CDs, but this is a highly atmospheric also and it works pretty well. Nothing new, but a great compilation for completists.
Three new releases on Taalem, the sub division that specializes in 3"CDRs. Up to release 55-57 here, starting off with four pieces by Tzesne from the Basque country. Four shorter pieces at work here, in which he blends together field recordings and electronics. In some of his previous works this has resulted in some more noise based ambience, but these four new pieces are all quite quiet on the ambient side, with only 'Swarm' being a bit louder. Quite nice this new material.
Mathias Delplanque has a whole series of works devoted to empty spaces, and this particular one was already recorded in 2001, and now edited into a great twenty minute of music. Like before, Delplanque uses the empty space as a starting point, and even while his work is inside microsound, he transposes the silence into some powerful music, which never goes 'quiet'. Through various sections, he brings the empty space alive in some striking piece of music. Devoid of microsound, this is probably more ambient with a touch of industrialism to it. Great work.
Micheal Northam travels a lot and presents here a work that was recorded in India in december 2007, with his microtuned tubular zylophone along with winter rain. Its unclear what (or if at all) he has done with the recordings, but its a pretty neat work. Maybe a bit more rougher than usual, but the various shifting tones of the metallic object he is playing, along with the processed field recordings make this a slow yet always evolving piece of work. A classic Northam piece of drone like acoustic sounds and field recordings. (FdW)

Along with this release comes a small plastic bag with a seed in it and there is a small text on the cover about grass, explaining (?) the title, and the webaddress of the band, but that website is hardly a place for extensive researching. So whatever he or she does, its about organic matter, I'd say. Producing sound with perhaps organic matter, being transformed through some sound effects, or perhaps even on a computer - its a bit hard to tell here. Its one piece that lasts about sixteen minutes and its not bad at all. It sort of reminded me of early Small Cruel Party or Yeast Culture - although: who'd be remembering that after all those years? Drone like, mysterious, vague, but also quite nice to hear. It leaves lots of room to think and interpretate things your way. Sometimes that's nice enough. A small gemm this one. (FdW) Address:

THE TOBACCONISTS! - THE ROUTE (3" CDR by My Own Little Label)
FOUST! - LAST MORNING RAIN (3" CDR by My Own Little Label
The Tobacconists! are one of those new kids on the block namewise, that is, because they aren't exactly kids anymore. No, you can't say that Scott Foust and Frans de Waard haven't been around for a while already (be it for years in Idea Fire Company or Kapotte Muziek for example). The chaps were in correspondence with each other for about 20 years now, but never really started their own project. 2009 sees that change and not only did they form the Tobacconists!, they also decided to release a CDR and do a tour, which started this very April. Last Friday, they visited Tilburg and I happened to be there. They were in a pleasant mood and presented to the public a nice mix of field recordings and digital processed sound materials. Had a bit that same filmic effect on me that I experienced while listening to the Pick-Up release on Moll (a collaboration between Frans de Waard and Martin Luiten). The CDR represents their live set quite well (and vice versa for that matter): I clearly recognize the tracks that they also had played live. So, to kick in a quick and short conclusion: go and see them live when they happen to pass through your city this month, experience that drift into cinematic landscapes and buy the CDR afterwards.
"Last Morning Rain", also released by Moll, is a solo affair executed by Scott Foust and sounds like well, last morning's rain to be quite frank. A field recording consisting of heavy showers and the occasional thunder. I'm not sure if it's constructed by means of various recordings or captured in one go, but I do know that it is an excellent alternative when you're missing out on something on a grey Sunday morning. (Steffan de Turck) Address:

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