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Vital Weekly 685

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STEPHAN MATHIEU & TAYLOR DEUPREE - TRANSCRIPTIONS (CD by Spekk)
If such a thing exists, a pyramid of sound artists, then for whatever microsound I guess Taylor Deupree and Stephan Mathieu might be at the top (not alone, they aren't king of glitch - nobody is king of anything, if only some would realize this) with their top productions, and its not a strange thing that they ended up working together. Mathieu uses here his recent interest of wax cylinders and 78 rpm records, which he feeds directly into real time processing software, along with piano sounds. Deupree received the material and adds guitars, synthesizers and processes the material a bit further. Eight pieces of sheer minimalist delight. Its hard to tell what is what. Sometimes we seem to detect a bit of guitar, some sort of synth or the soft crackles of vinyl, but everything is put nicely into place and it blends well together. This is ambient glitch music in optima forma. Gliding waves, ringing softly in the overtone department, highly atmospheric. One could easily say there is not much new under the sun here and whilst that may be true, one could also point out that there are two great masters at work, doing exactly what we expect them to do and they deliver a great job. I know I like to point out the 'nothing new under the [...] sun, but here I am all for it. A great work. (FdW)
Address: http://www.spekk.net

ROBERT HAMPSON - VECTORS (CD by Touch)
A long time I met Robert Hampson and talked with him about the movie '24 Hour Party People'. What I didn't knew is that Hampson and his band Loop toured with the Happy Mondays, so he shed some extra light on those scenes involving the Mondays. I was thinking of the curious career of Hampson when listening to 'Vectors'. The rock days of Loop merging into the ambience of Main to the electro acoustic of Hampson, who no longer uses the name Main anymore. I liked Loop, I truly loved Main and sometimes I found myself thinking 'what is Robert Hampson doing these days?'. Its been some years since his last Main release, but apparently his into France these days. All three pieces here were recorded for things in France, festivals, commissions of INA GRM. Indeed a curious career. Robert Hampson - serious composer. Who would have guessed? One could see it coming I guess, as the last Main releases forecasted the music on 'Vectors': computer manipulated electro-acoustic music, brought to you in the form of an audio collage. If you need to compare it with something, then the whole microsound posse comes to mind, but Roel Meelkop in particular. Hampson shares the same sensibility of creating intense audio compositions, with slow curves, occasional rapid change and a keen ear for atmospherics. Crackling, ambient, computer treatments of acoustic objects. Well crafted compositions, that never seem to leap into the doodling that some of the 'real' (what is real anyway?) acousmatic composers in this scene seem to be doing. Challenging music of the highest order. Its only a pity that there is not so much of that from Hampson. Let's hope the next one is not three years away. (FdW)
Address: http://www.touchmusic.org.uk

MY CAT IS AN ALIEN - MORT AUX VACHES (CD by Staalplaat)
YELLOW SWANS - MORT AUX VACHES (CD by Staalplaat)
These two additions to the extended catalogue of Mort Aux Vaches proof once again a few things: the broad musical range of the series, showing there is no boundary at all, just fine music. That's one consistent thing. The second is the cover art. Yellow Swans and My Cat Is An Alien are true delight again, although the latter is extremely low on information. It mentions the bandname and the title and nothing else on the entire packaging or CD (unless this is another twisted Staalplaat thing where one has to burn the package to retrieve more information). I don't know much about My Cat Is An Alien, but its the duo of Maurizio and Roberto Opalio, two brothers from Torino, Italy. They improvise their music, using electric and acoustic guitars, percussion, toy instruments and voice toy microphones. They have an extended discography of which I didn't hear much (a superficial glance learned me that), but what I hear here, should make me find some of their other recordings. The music of My Cat Is An Alien is, as said, improvised and if we take a look at the list of people they played with, its not easy to spot the influences: Jackie O'Motherfucker, Keiji Haino but also Sonic Youth. But there is also the influence of people like Simon Wickham-smith and Richard Youngs to be noted here - the records that they did together more than their solo records. Improvised, drone like, but not of the kind of 'play the lowest note on an organ and feed it through some endless sustain delay pedal', but throughout acoustic, warm, but also electronic and with slow developments which leave enough room for development. Certainly a band to look out for.
The Yellow Swans I know better, through various of their releases and the fact i saw them play live once. Maybe on the same tour as they recorded this, I don't remember when I saw them. The cover, which shows us a yellow swan and a girl (no doubt from some fairytale, which I am trying to remember, but somehow it doesn't pop into this clouded head) as a stuck on, 3D thing. Very nice, and approved by the children around here. Yellow Swans are a noise duo, playing guitar, bass, lots and lots of effects and in general put on a hell of a racket. In general, not always. It takes some time to get there, and that's where Yellow Swans drop their noise mask and start building their blocks of noise. I know word out there is that I don't like noise, which is simply not true. But I did hear a lot of noise throughout the years and a lot I like. But these days my digest is not so much for the pure noise anymore. And that's why I like this Yellow Swans release quite a bit. It moves from 'quieter' ground, via curves and hiccups, into the land of noise, with its heavily reverbed ebow guitar (which sound very retro actually, and might not be one of the things I like very much), and feedback/distortion treatments and then back again. Quite a fine work of noise. (FdW) Address: http://www.staalplaat.com

BIG CITY ORCHESTRA - EERILY (CD by EE Tapes)
Underground is a difficult term. Perhaps its best defined as Do It Yourself. Not looking for the next record deal, or moving from CDRs to CDs and never wanting to do CDRs again. That sort of attitude. If one band live up to that, then today my choice would be Big City Orchestra. They have been around for ages, releasing on all formats the world of music saw, but never gained 'fame' in any way. And perhaps that's good. Let's have them underground, with us. Here for instance is a new CD by Das, the master mind behind Big City Orchestra since the beginning, but also members like Cliff Neighbours, Ninah Pixie, Univac, Jonathan Segal, Melissa Margolis and as a special guest David Aellen of Gong fame. Although Big City Orchestra was never fixed into one musical genre, there is, throughout the years an overall idea to be noted. Roughly somewhere in the grey area of ambient music, drone, narrative music and perhaps all touched with a sense of psychedelic music. These six new pieces here sum up this very well. No doubt largely conceived in the world of warm, analogue synthesizers and guitars with lots of effects. The result is an eerie (sorry, couldn't help that one), desolate sound piece with very slow, minimal shifts. Maybe to some extent they still sound the same as back in 1987 when they released cassettes, but luckily it sounds much richer now on CD. The underground is not about sticking to hissy cassettes out of some perverse love of retro, but finding the best ways to express yourself, without keeping any notion about the overground. In that respect to people who want to hear a band develop, then Big City Orchestra might be the wrong place to turn to, but I think this is great music. Mood music, dark night, late night music. Music that has not been made to please the big crowd, but a small but caring community of truly devoted fans. I may not be one, simply because I don't have everything they made, I certainly rank myself as someone who is always keen to anything new by them. 'Eerily' is a great CD. (FdW) Address: http://www.eetapes.be

EVENTLESS PLOT - IKON (CD by Granny Records)
Also from Greece are Eventless Plot, who released a split album with Good Luck Mr Gorky which was reviewed in Vital Weekly 618. Eventless Plot is a three piece group 'using a variety of organs, analog sources, field recordings, as also electronics and processed sounds', although elsewhere it is mentioned that they use clarinet, piano, melodica and guitars. Whatever, me thinks. Its not that important, the result here is what counts and the result is great. This is not music that is easy to classify. But things come close to some of the music on 12K: glitch like, ambient, atmospheric, but there is throughout a feeling of jazz and post rock to be detected in these pieces. The piano plays softly in the background, the clicks produce a jazzy rhythm, and the organs are nicely adrift. Not very outspoken this music, but rather introspective and throughout highly atmospheric, but they do reach firmer, more solid ground at times, such as in 'Habit Habitant'. Throughout an excellent debut album. If you love the recent slight moves 12K made than this is definitely up your alley too. (FdW)
Address: http://www.grannyrecords.org

FENN O'BERG - MAGIC & RETURN (2CD by Editions Mego)
Perhaps, to some, the best news in some time was the return of Jim O'Rourke to playing music again, and part of that is the resurrection of Fenn O'Berg. By accident Christian Fennesz, Peter Rehberg and Jim O'Rourke played together for the first time in 1997 and then until 2002 they played around the world, being one of the first super groups of the laptop scene (and if we must believe the press text sometimes in places that didn't accept a laptop trio). The three recorded their shows and from the first period 'The Magic Sound Of Fenn O'Berg' was released, using various bits of the early concerts and then later 'The Return Of Fenn O'Berg' was released, which culled material from only two concerts. After that the three drifted apart, swarmed with work elsewhere. Now they return later this year, and will record a new CD in Tokyo (the new home of O'Rourke) early next year. So this is the right moment to re-issue both old recordings, including two bonus tracks, from a compilation for the Sonar festival CD and one being the bonus of the Japanese version of 'The Return Of Fenn O'Berg'. Back then (in Vital Weekly 206 and 332) I wrote of the 'The Magic Sound': "In their lap-tops they play released CD's (mostly popmusic) and use whatever program is hot at the moment (I am clueless on the technical side of course). All I know is that you can edit and transform music in real time, as it is playing. There are recognizable instruments in here, as well as scratching the surface and noisy bits. Piece the resistance for me is the final 'Fenn O'Berg Theme' with its orchestral
theme and small noisy bits. Maybe a cliche track but I really don't mind. Very nice CD!" and on 'The Return': "Taking from two concerts last year, we are served with the best fragments in a collage style. Like it's predecessor, 'The Magic Sound Of Fenn O'Berg', they again use lots of elements from popmusic, but unlike Kid 606 or that posse, it's hard to recognize what exactly they are using. The elements are blurred and transformed on the spot, by all three of them at the same time. Like with many improv trickery, this has good and bad moments (even after the magic edit button erased the weaker parts). However the good moments outlast the weaker ones and those weaker ones are usually the starting point of a new good bit. It would be nice to see them doing their thing in the studio and edit a studio album. Fenn O'Berg remain noisy, funny and poppy, all at the same time." I must admit I haven't played both CDs in some time, but now that I hear them again, I am still taken by the great music. I forgot all about the plunderphonic aspect of the music, but its still great music. A most welcome and complete re-issue. (FdW)
Address: http://www.editionsmego.at

NOKALYPSE - REPEATED IN AN INDEFINITELY ALTERNATING SERIES OF THOUGHTS (LP by Entr'acte/Absurd)
Only a few weeks ago I reviewed a CDR by Nokalypse, the musical project of Themis Pantelopolous, who also runs the Triple Bath label. Here he has two pieces which he recorded in 2006 already but that are now revised for the release on this LP, a joint venture between UK's Entr'acte and Greek Absurd branch. Nokalypse plays music using software, Audiomulch and Wavelab are two of his favorite toys. With that he creates drone music but its not the usual kind of drone music. At times it sounds like music that is somehow, somewhere slightly academic in approach, but throughout one hear it isn't. Besides the official academic composers of the sixties, there were also then outsiders, who released music on vinyl. HIghly obscure material, and when I was listening to Nokalypse I was reminded of that. His compositions aren't very tight, but rather loosely structured, with repeating blocks that return every now and then, sounds fading in and out. Things are pitched up and down the scale and develop over the course of the side of a record. A bit PBK like, Conrad Schnitzler is never far away as an influence, and it makes two lovely pieces of music. Somewhere between academic and non academic, ambient and industrial, this is a great one. (FdW)
Address: http://www.noise-below.org http://www.entracte.co.uk

RAYMOND DIJKSTRA - DE SCHROEF (LP by Le Souffleur)
Perhaps our most beloved outsider in experimental music. Raymond Dijkstra never ceases to amaze me. 'De Schroef' ('the screw') is his biggest edition so far (I think), limited to 200 copies. That's not the only chance here. The music is ten pieces of maybe one minute to 90 seconds, ending in a silent lock groove and with lots of blank space in between those pieces. Meaning you have to get up to place the stylus into the next piece. Most odd. It doesn't end there. Each of the pieces seems to be a variation on the same theme. An organ/harmonium sound, scraping of glass; all done rapidly. But the proceedings are short and one is left to think its the same thing, but perhaps its not. That's the great thing about releases by Raymond Dijkstra. It leaves an endless amount of thinking about it. Is it same, or different? Why is it cut like this? Poetry. I think Dijkstra offers us sound poetry. Without words, but these ten poems are variations on a few sounds. It will surely annoy a few listeners, but no doubt the true fans of Dijkstra - count me in there - are amazed. Once again. The great outsider. (FdW) Address: http://www.le-souffleur.nl

SUPERNOVA 2 (2x10" by Interstellar Records)
Back in 2001 I think I missed out on Supernova 1, a four tape set with music by Calamari Autopsy, Monster DVD, Interstate 35 and Mute Audio, back in 2001. Some water has passed under the bridge before the second installment arrived, this time in the form of a double 10". A strange mixture of music. On one side we find the extreme noise of Merzbow, with one of the better tracks. It seems more composed than improvised. On the extreme other side we find turntablist Wolfgang Fuchs with a sheer silent piece of 'Laurenz', and some more upfront popping vinyl in 'Rundschau'. In between these two there is two types of rockmusic. The weakest link is Peach Pit, a math rock trio from Croatia. But then perhaps math rock is just not my kind of music. In the other corner Bulbul from Australia who are also a rock trio, from Austria. Their music is much more silent and improvised, with lots of silence and gaps in between sparse notes. An odd bunch indeed. I quite enjoyed 3/4 of it, but I wonder if say a Merzbow will dig Fuchs. But you never know, I guess. (FdW)
Address: http://www.interstellarrecords.at

ERSTLAUB - BROADCASTING ON GHOST FREQUENCIES (CDR by Moving Furniture Records)
Back in Vital Weekly 601 we first heard the music of Erstlaub, also known as Dave Fyans from Perth, Scotland. On 'On Becoming An Island' Fyans composed everything live, without processing or multitracking using a Nord G2 synthesizer. I don't know if that's the case here too on 'Broadcasting On Ghost Frequencies' but its again a single track, this time lasting almost forty-nine minutes. That's not the only link to the previous release. This new work sees him continuing on the thematic approach of drone music. A nightmare like soundscape. The sky tonight is covered with clouds, no moon, no stars. But the clouds drift on the howl of wind. One can barely see a thing - no street lights are on. Apparently Fyans is inspired here by the Ganzfeld Procedure 'where the participant is deprived of visual stumulus and bombarded with white/pink noise drawing the mind to form patterns in the chaos often hearing voices from the past or inventing entirely new constructs within their consciousness'. I hear voices too, but they are real: they come from the outside. No clouds, just lots of sunshine. This might be the wrong moment to hear this? It works well, except that its not chaotic at all. Its a beautiful piece of drone music. Nothing new under the pitch black sky, done however with great care. (FdW) Address: http://www.movingfurniturerecords.com

SPARTAK - THE LOST SIGNAL TOUR (CDR by HelloSquare Recordings)
Shoeb Ahmad, guitarist, computerist, flutist and vocalist of Spartak is a busy man. If not playing with Spartak, he might be creating his own music, or releasing work on his own HelloSquare Recordings label. A busy bee from downunder. Improvising music seems to be his main interest these days and Spartak his principle outlet for doing so. Its a duo of him and Evan Dorrian on drums, computer and field recordings, but also playing the electric organ on this release. They blend ambience music with rock themes and free jazz improv. This release, a sort of tour item for July's Australia tour (as well as two dates in Signapore and Malaysia) and in between two 'real' albums, sees an interesting expansion of their style. Things are quite dark, held back, subdued, even in the most 'loud' piece 'Sleet/Skid' they seem to be holding back. In the other three pieces it seems almost like they want to play a microsound like work with real instruments. Moody, textured, atmospheric. Free improvised but keeping things together in a great way. It must be great to see them performing live. I hope one day to catch them in concert here or over there. (FdW)
Address: http://www.hellosquarerecordings.com

JAMES RUSHFORD & JOE TALIA - PALISADES (CDR by Sabbatical Records)
From downunder, Melbourne to be precise are James
Rushford and Joe Talia. Together they play prepared viola (Rushford) and spring tank, beatsink, cymbals, woodblock, floor tom (Talia). That I would have never guessed. The four pieces here are highly drone based and work extensively in the field of overtones. Lengthy sustaining music of long held tones, and with a strict minimum of changing the menu of sounds. Only in the third track things are stretched apart and we can note the scraping of viola. The fourth piece (all untitled) sees them exploring this further with sounds that swirl loosely in a mass of natural reverb. The music below sounds like it has been made with sine waves, but I guess it isn't. Highly refined music this is. No doubt created through improvisation, but then I guess this is not their first result in doing so. I think after hefty experimentation they came to these results. An excellent release at that. Great music at work here. (FdW)
Address: http://www.sbbtcl.com

 

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