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Vital Weekly 698

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More celebrations: this year marks also the 30th year of existence for The Haters and somehow I thought G.X. Jupitter-Larsen is not the kind of guy to look back upon the past. Not much of his old releases, if any at all, made it to another, more current format, or even as MP3 releases on all those nice historical blogs that unearth so much great and old music. But lo and behold, here is perhaps the first of many re-issues and what classic it is. 'In The Shade Of Fire' was in 1986 the very first LP release by The Haters, on Silent Records, long before they started to be big on the ambient house scene. The Haters are here in great shape. The sound of destruction leads the pieces. The breaking of glass, the crackle of fire, explosions and car crashes are looped with old reel-to-reel machines or perhaps cassette tapes and put together into very crude, minimal compositions. Loops phase shift with eachother and create a dense, minimal pattern of sound, that is quite loud of course. Noise as noise should be, in the mid-80s but after twenty-three years haven't lost a single bit of the original power. Noise for sure, but, and that's perhaps the most striking thing in hearing this after all these years, The Haters sound so 'musical'. Thought has been put into the compositions to make them sound like compositions. "Noise Is Pleasing" and "The grinding vibrating murmer of entropy is a pleasant intoxication for me", G.X. writes on the cover. I couldn't agree any more on that. A most welcome re-issue. (FdW) Address:


JASON KAHN & RICHARD FRANCIS (CD by Monochrome Vision)
Just how many CDs did Jason Kahn release by now? Hard to say, but quite a fair bunch. He doesn't surprise me with his music that much anymore, but that has nothing to do with the quality of the music as such. Here he teams up with Richard Francis, once known as Eso Steel and running the CMR label, and these working under his own name. The two met for the first time in Auckland where they played together and then, a year later, again in Switzerland. Kahn plays percussion and analogue synthesizer, while Francis is on computer and electronics. Four pieces (between ten and sixteen minutes each) of great lo-fi humming sounds. A very special kind of drone music that sounds both electronic and acoustic. It seems to me that these are microphone recordings, which capture the atmosphere from the space they play their music in, and which adds a nice textured quality to the music. Minimalist in approach, but very fine in execution. Like said, Kahn doesn't surprise me with his music, but he sure knows how to please me. (FdW) Address:


The logo of this project express the feeling that the music contained must be of the abrasive kind. The logo looks like the style that could've been used by an extreme metal or harsh noise band. The first minute does sound like something evil will occur with its rumbling noises wriggling along the dark sounds of church bells and field recordings of creaking doors, but shortly after the melancholic sounds of a violin closes down the first chapter "Chanting bells call shadows". From this moment forward the music turns acoustic and it works well! Splinterskin comes from Ohio and his musical approach belongs to the experimental folk scene with dark and momentarily sinister atmospheres saturating this debut titled "Wayward souls". The music is primarily built on acoustic guitar spiced with some interesting vocals. What makes this album such an alluring experience is the artist's obvious compositional skills combined with a dark and dramatic take on the neo-folk-scene and not least: The vocal variations spanning from gently mild to downright evil and creepy on a piece like "Broken down hearse". The pieces of the album carried by the talented acoustic guitar strums sometimes added other acoustic instruments such as violin and hand drums has a dramatic touch making the listener suspect something creepy to happen in the next second. But at the end of the day, Splinterskin let's the listener float into seventeen beautiful pieces of contemporary folk music. Excellent debut album that can be enjoyed be anyone generally interested in melodic beauty - this being folk music or else! (Niels Mark) Address:


SPIRACLE - ANANTA (2CD by The Helen Scarsdale Agency)
Today it dawned upon me that not many of the Mystery Sea releases, which are always limited to 100 copies, were re-issued, if any at all. I thought of this, while playing this double CD of Spiracle, also known as Hitsohi Kojo. His previous version of 'Ananta' was released on Mystery Sea (see Vital Weekly 513) and back then I wrote about this "It starts out with a forceful set of organ like sounds, and over the course of this piece, which lasts over an hour, sea like sounds wash in and out, whereas the organ sounds are pulled apart and start to modulate. Maybe I have had the volume more cranked up on this one, but it seemed to me a very 'present' release, unlike some other releases on this label (or in the genre of drone music as such), things don't drop back in a level of inaudibility. Having said that, things aren't very noise either, just present throughout this piece. One could wonder if things aren't say ten to fifteen minutes too long, but otherwise this is a pretty strong release, another one in the mighty Mystery Sea catalogue, and one that, with all it's washy sounds, fits the label's concept very clear." I am not sure why Kojo opted for another version of 'Ananta' (which means 'infinity' in Sanskrit), but the new version is also a nice one. It seems that in the passing three years, things have been reduced more than on the previous version. The water like sounds have been removed (maybe Mystery Sea requested those?) and the organ sounds play throughout all these time. This time I played things a bit more quieter and it worked quite nice 'in the space' - music like a surrounding space, bouncing between all walls of my space. Quite a good work. A bit shorter than the first version, and perhaps a bit stronger. (FdW)


Saxophonist Fancher is a pioneering interpreter. She performs work from many different contemporary composers. But also transcriptions of music by composers as diverse as Josquin Desprez and Steve Reich. Her work is documented on about 10 CDs released by different labels. To mention one, in 2002 her solo-album "Ponder Nothing" with compositions by Steve Reich and Ben Johnston was released by Innova. This label now make her newest solo-effort public. For this project she selected 7 compositions from 7 contemporary composers: John Anthony Lennon, James Paul Sain, Mark Engebretson, Reginald Bain, Judith Shatin, Morton Subotnick and Edmund Campion. All of them american composers working in the academic world. Two of the works one could consider as 'old': the fantastic opening piece "In Two Worlds" (1987) by Morton Subotnick and : "Aeterna" (1996) by John Anthony Lennon. All other compositions were born in this century. As said the opening piece comes from pioneer: Morton Subotnick. He is known for his electronic music, and his experimenting with interactive, electroacoustic procedures. This is also the case for "In Two Worlds' that was originally composed for saxophone and interactive computer. But because technological innovations developed quick, the computer-system that was originally used, is outdated now. So with permission by Subotnick newer technology is used here for the performance by Fancher. It is a bit tragicomical that music that was so innovative can be outdated so quick in some respects. The composition itself however is far from outdated. In fact it was the piece I liked most. By the way, also all other pieces on this CD are based on electroacoustical combinations of saxophone and electronics, albeit in many different ways. This way CD presents a good overview of the state of this particular art. (Dolf Mulder)


I don't think in terms of 'best record of the year', but this one forces me to do so. This is absolutely on of the most amazing records I have heard this year. But only after I had conquered my allergy for Tom Waits- and Nick Cave-like voices. Listening to "Third one Rises" these comparisons are inevitable but please forget them if they disturb you. Because this one absolutely deserves your attention. It is a long time ago since I met such outstanding musical madness. An intriguing mix of influences, cooked and served by Andrew Plummer. We hear over the top and very inventive arrangements, played with incredible virtuosity in function of clear defined songs that are really made of flesh and blood. We have to deal with songs where musicians take different routes and solos at the same time, with music that continuously interrupts itself, with musicians that play out of phase, but where at the same time everything wonderfully fits in some mysterious way. So this is very intelligently constructed music that is very bizarre and wild at the same time. The musicians who clear this incredible job are: James Allsopp (reeds), Alex Bonney (trumpet), Matthew Bourne (piano, gongs), Tom Greenhalgh (drums), Dave Kane (bass), and Andrew Plummer himself (vocals, electric guitar). Plus several guests. All of them are fantastic musicians playing with an irresistible enthusiasm. Listening to this musically very convincing record is an breathtaking and exhausting experience that I can strongly advise you. (Dolf Mulder) Address:


BRUME - THE SUN/THE MOON (2CD by Elsie & Jack Recordings)
Brume is dead - long live Christian Renou. At least that's what I thought that happened. Brume was old moniker for Renou and since roughly 2000 he worked under his own name. But now, celebrating the 40th anniversary of mankind's bigger steps on the moon, Brume is back. Partly with an old work (although I thought that the excellent Waystyx re-issued most of them on CD), from 1990, which was released by Old Europa Cafe and a new work from this along with six pieces which he recorded with Monera, the duo of James and Phil Rodriguez (and also acting as his label managers here). I have no idea why Renou returned to the Brume tag. The whole Moon landing thing is dragged into this, and then mainly on 'The Moon' part (obviously), the 2009 work. 'The Sun', the old work, is Brume is great form. Never a silent moment music, as I used to call it back then. Banging on metal percussion, blowing plastic pipes and all that mixed with tapes of his own making and feeding it through electronics in a thorough musique concrete like manner, making this a fine work, but at seventy-seven minutes also one that takes a lot of your energy. 'The Moon' is Renou updated - older and wiser, perhaps? Quieter for sure. His music has more space here, the room for sounds to develop, flourish and die out and not every inch of the tape has been filled with music. The other difference is that the music is sometimes a bit more stretched out, more drone and and ambient like. Especially the six pieces with Monera are very quieter and very spacious, like the good old cosmic music. This is actually the highlight of the package for me. 'The Sun' is fine, but a bit much, 'The Moon' is also long, but works well throughout. (FdW)

This particular Fahey is also somebody with a long career in music. Starting with an art rock band, The Makers Of The Dead Travel Fast, then onto sampling genius with Social Interiors (along with Rick Rue and Julian Knowles) and then building his own and others' studios. For this new solo work he uses a bunch of field recordings, analogue synths and tape loops - almost like ancient musique concrete. Even when this CD has seven separate tracks, it feels like one piece. Partly that is due to the nature of what Fahey does: a multi-track tape with lots of sounds that are there in a seemingly random order, but which start to make sense in the mix. The field recordings are not always easy to spot, save for some rain dripping and wind blowing through empty metal containers, but they mix nicely along the sound of buzz and hiss coming from the analogue synths. Music that is quite densely layered, most of the times, sometimes in a slightly amorphous mass, then crisp and clear. Each piece is a piece by itself, and all seven make up for one giant piece of music. There is always something happening at any level of the music, making this into a very vibrant electro-acoustic work. Very well done work. (FdW)

In New Haven, Connecticut, there is the legendary grave of Midnight Mary and if you get caught there past midnight, you will die the next day. That is not entirely true. Loren Connors walked in, in 1981, with his guitar and tape recorder and still lives on, lucky for him and us. The recording of his guitar playing and singing that night on the graveyard was lost for some time but recently unearthed and is now released. If you are familiar with his Connors' old recordings from this period, which were re-released in 1999 in box-set form, then you know what to expect here. Slightly detuned acoustic guitar and Connors moaning, shaman like 'vocals', wordless, and chilling to the bone. With the imperfections of the recordings like in place, this Nine pieces of midnight horror music of a great delicate, improvised nature. I am not the connoisseur to say whether this is gospel like, or in which particular direction of folk music this stands, but I know this sounds great. I dug out the old box-set again and placed it on my desk for the times that are less busy to come and play an entire day of Connors music. I am glad some curses aren't true. (FdW) Address:


RETARDER - ENQUIRIES (CD by Tourette Records)
DAO+COH - DZERZHINSK-9 (LP by Tourette Records)
To be really honest, the only thing Muslimgauze related I'm waiting for is the book that Ibrahim Khider wrote on the life and work of this man, rather than some new work or re-issue, even when that re-issue is somehow linked to my own past. Russia's Species Of Fishes released 'Songs Of A Dumb World' on Korm Plastics and 'Trip Trap' on their own Exotica label and back then, 1997-1998, this was at the peak of ambient house and I thought Species Of Fishes was one of those bands that made their own interesting mark on that musical scene. I am not sure if they send copies of their own to Muslimgauze or perhaps I did, but it resulted in this set of remixes. Muslimgauze was always busy remixing other people's work, so various bands sent in their music and get a full hour of work back, which was then released. Perhaps a particular favorite of Tourette Records, I don't know, but here it is again. Listening to this I was thinking that perhaps of all the works created by Muslimgauze, his remixes are, besides some of his solo highlights, of more interest than many of his sometimes mediocre albums. I guess this has to do with the sound input received from the original band, which makes this less arabic/ethno in approach, yet still maintaining that signature Muslimgauze sound. Minimal chuncks of rhythm, repeating in a somewhat mechanical way. The biggest problem I always had with Muslimgauze was his determination to get everything out that he created, also the weaker bits. That's also the case here with this set of remixes, of which some tracks don't extend beyond 'three loops of sound and some sound effects'. Good to hear again though.
Lloyd James is the man behind Retarder. I understand he was a member of a band called Naevus, which I never heard, but I gather from what I read a sort of rock band. His 'Enquiries' record is however hardly rock related. Experimental is the easy way out in calling it something at all. The eight pieces are quite a different, mixed bag. The opening piece 'Dancing' sound like an exercise in Garage Band: piano and horns play Conlon Nancarrow's player piano pieces. Hectic and nervous, but I must admit it sounds quite nice. Its followed by 'Turn That Light Off', which has bass loop, guitar riff and vocals - something entirely different. 'Superman's Cave' sounds again like something coming out of a digital instrument, but then very ambient, or 'Modern Evening' with slow electric guitar movements, heavy drums and singing. A most curious record indeed. More like a radio program actually, but one that I actually would like to hear. Most likely one of the stranger records I heard recently.
From Andrew Zealley I once reviewed a LP on
En/Of, and he was a member of Greek Buck. That was back in Vital Weekly 450, which is nearly four years ago. Now he returns to the Vital HQ with a new LP, which deals with various pieces of music recorded for film, video, installation and performances. I won't go into the depth by writing what is what here, but there is for instance the 'score to Treleaven's film on pandrogyny (starring Genesis P'Orridge and the late Lady Jaye Breyer)', which opens this record. Zealley uses in his music field recordings, electronics, violin and other strings and vocals. Somehow it seems to me that the pieces are linked to eachother, or cross faded into eachother. The music is simply great. Ambient like, soft, not too outspoken but also on the other hand weird and experimental enough, and suddenly bursting into 'Signal' which is almost like a sorrowful poptune - dreampop almost. However most of the other pieces are instrumentals, which would be less poppy, but still have that nice ambient edge. More like microsound or downright ambient, these are however more structured like a 'song'. Even without film, video or such like, this is a great album.
What did COH, also known as Ivan Pavlov before he became one of the stars of the electronic music scene? He created more electronic music, together with DAO, also known as Andrej Kolesov. The pieces collected here are from before COHs first releases on Raster Music from 1996, which was recorded using "hand-made digital and analogue equipment, and recorded onto a 4-track cassette deck", and its all live in the studio, direct to tape stuff. The four pieces are crude electronics - not noise in any sense of the word, but crude rhythmic electronics. What it seems to lack in composition is actually made up in raw energy. Sometimes breakbeat like, then a bit of ambient with bass beating below. Its not the greatest music in the world, but it has some nice untamed energy. Nice historical document. (FdW)


(AD)VANCE(D) - TWO EVENTS (LP by Waystyx Records)
Not much info on this otherwise beautifully packed LP. The story should be known: following the split of Vance Orchestra, Mars Wellink started (ad)vance(d), together with Jan Dekker. The music of (ad)vance(d) is a continuation of lines set out by Vance Orchestra: that of the cross road of ambient music, bit of rhythm (mainly through samples) and a hint of industrial music. Two side long pieces, an event per side me thinks. The music slowly evolves and develops - the archetypical form of drone music, which is in these four hands in great form. Deep rumbles from below the earth's surface, which grow in intensity and take a big shape, almost without the listener realizing this. Voices (?) seem to mumble, the rattling of a bike, all against a nice, thick brick wall of sound. It reminded me of some of the best work of zoviet*france. The rotating swirls fit the medium, or the medium fits the swirls of sound. Two particular great pieces that one keeps rotating on end. Fabolous headspace music. (FdW) Address: distribution through


STROTTER INST. - BOLZPLATZ (10" by Everest Records)
Since I'm no longer reviewing not 'the real thing' I wonder why I touch this CDR of a 10". My wondering goes further: the press text reads about two tracks at 33 rpm and two at 45 rpm, but it implies also that one could play all tracks at any speed - eight in total they say, but whatever happened to 16 and 78 rpm? Now that's something I would have liked to try out myself. One of those reasons for wanting the real thing. Strotter Inst. is one of those guys who use the turntable to play his music. Not in the sense of say Otomo Yoshihide, but more like a Philip Jeck on speed. The rotations of the table are used to generate a louder sound, a menacing threat. A driving stomping beat sound, very dry. Objects cling and clang around in a strictly mechanical fashion, but the drive is fine enough to get a small crowd moving. No techno beats, more like dark tribal music. Nice one. (FdW) Address:


SIMON WHETHAM - D/R (CDR by 1000Füssler)
Two releases dealing with field recordings. There is lots of information on the press release on Rui Costa, like that he worked with Inaki Ros and Manuela Barile, and that works as a sound artist. Here on 'Sightseeing For The Blind' he created a sound piece on the city he lives in, Lisbon. A nice city as far as I can remember from the two hours I walked around there. Costa walks the same route as many tourists do - not me - and created this piece. A nice piece, like the city. But not a piece that tells us much about the city Lisbon. Nothing spectacular. Just a very nice, somewhat subdued piece of music. Furthermore there are five further remixes by others, Gregory Büttner, Pali Meursault, Bill jarboe, Maile Colbert and Marc Behrens, who use the rough sound material of Costa. These pieces are much shorter and throughout with more 'action' - not just in the way they are processed, but also because of the 'leakage' of the original sources.
On CDR we find the work of Simon Whetham, by now perhaps no longer an unknown guy. He has had a couple of releases on Trente Oiseaux, Entr'acte, Gruenrekorder and his work deals mainly with field recordings. In October 2008 he went to Tallin, Estonia to work on a project with a performance group on the theme of 'Deconstruction/Reconstruction'. One piece wasn't documented, the other three are. The first piece is deals with the city sounds of Tallinn, which are processed (I think) into some collage form. The typical work of a modern day composer of city sounds, I'd say, but Whetham does a fine job at that. Its a very playful piece, detailed and rich. In 'Decrescendo' things move from the loud to the soft, as implied by the title. Starting out with classical music, which, once died out, fades into sparse metallic sounds that scratch the surface and some deep bass rumble. Almost silent in approach. Perhaps the best piece of the three. In 'Yoko' he uses the sounds produced by Yoko Ishiguro, who tries to smoke, cook, wash her her and eat a banana, all at the same time. The human sounds of action can be well spotted in here, but I think its the least convincing piece - perhaps too clear, or too direct in approach. With seven minutes also the shortest. (FdW)


Paul is a professional photographer, but plays piano since his youth with a love for jazz and improvisation. With Henry Kuntz we are in the company of a veteran improvisor. We first hear him on a very early record of Henry Kaiser, "Ice Death" (1977). And two years later Kuntz started Hummingbird and released his first solo-album "Cross-Eyed Priest". Releases over the years were not many. Concerning this new release Kuntz says: "These are the first recordings Paul and I have made together in 25 years. We had fun improvising and spontaneously shaping the music, each piece grew out of its own organic logic." The reason for this long gap remains is not given. Also whether we are are talking here of two brothers, father and son, or another (family-)relation is not made explicit, but of course of secondary importance. But let's come to this meeting. Henry Kuntz plays chinese musette, angel soprano recorder, bells ,voice. Paul Kuntz embellished piano, bell wreath. We find them in nine concentrated improvisations, each one starting from a different angle. The music comes to you very direct. It is of great purity and rawness, unpolished. This makes that the music has an immediate emotional impact, although it are very abstract improvisations. Like in 'Ox 1' Kuntz produces often very penetrating sounds from his instruments, whereas Paul attracts attention with his self-made prepared piano turning it into an almost percussive instrument. In 'Ox 2' Henry excels in (fake) japanese vocals. Virtuosity is not their thing. The music lacks ego and pretensions. It springs from a meeting between two very personal and dedicated players. Authentic music! (Dolf Mulder) Address: http:/


GELUIDSPOST 2007-2008 (2CDR by Universaal Kunst)
Maybe you remember the announcements by Martijn Hohmann for his Geluidspost? Geluidspost is an imaginary concert space in an art space in Breda (The Netherlands), where people can sit and listen to to music, not distracted by something else. In 2007 and 2008 he asked various people to compose a piece of music for this, nine in total (and some had a real concert to present it). These nine pieces are now collected on this double CDR, in an edition of 250 copies (why not a real CD, I wondered). Tracks are usually around ten to twenty minutes long and read like a fine who's who from the current experimental scene: Merzbow, Runzelstirn & Gurgelstock, Janek Schaefer, Machinefabriek, (ad)vance(d), Steve Roden, Francisco Lopez, Staplerfahrer and a bunch of student from Sonology from The Hague, under the guidance of Justin Bennett. In 2007 (the first four names mentioned here), the emphasis was more on music, with some nice electronic piece by Schaefer and Machinefabriek and more noisy bits from the other two, whereas in 2008 the notions shifted more towards the use of field recordings. The student piece was perhaps not the best of the lot, a bit haphazard, but the other four a fine pieces, which do exactly what to expect from these composers. As such perhaps a bit 'regular' for them, but no weak brother around and (ad)vance(d) delivering the best out of nine. (FdW)

Its good to know that people do work hard and long to create their music (though it should not be confused with 'I worked on this very long, so it is very good'), and Psychon from Haarlem or Amsterdam took five years to create a follow-up to 'Apocalypse Has Been Dubbed The Weekend Pill'. That album was crazy mixture of musical genres, like symphonic rock, techno, IDM, ambient, dashes of krautrock but also jazz and noise and perhaps the bad news is that 'Slow Country For Old Man' isn't something else, but more of the same. But waiting five years for something you liked back then, might not be bad either? Again we are bombarded with samples from all over the musical spectrum, but throughout hip hop like rhythms play an important role - if any change that might be the one major change in this new Psychon work - and lots of wacky vocal samples, guitars, ambient doodling, psychedelica and strangely enough sounds all pretty coherent. Its like this stuff is made to stick to eachother. This could be big on the dance/rock live circuit, as its not far away from say C'Mon & Kypsky. The humour extends to the titles: 'Bollywoodhowl', 'Campdavidhasselhoff' or 'Nanamissouri'.
Also Living Ornaments took some time to follow up their 'Vlokken' release (see Vital Weekly 518), three years. I think that membership for both Pscyhon and Living Ornaments are quite a like, but there is a big difference in sound approach. Whereas Psychon bounces in all direction, Living Ornaments are more in one corner: IDM based sample music. They released on Skam and Scarcelight in the past to give you a clue. Rhythm plays an important role in their music, either straight forward from the rhythm machine, or through sampled sounds. It seems that these pieces are more like finished, rounded off songs than the same more free play of before. It makes the music more coherent than before too, I think. Maybe some of the pieces are still a bit long for my taste. Oddly enough I don't see Living Ornaments on the big stage, which is funny: shouldn't they be getting the kids to dance and not Psychon? Perhaps so, but Living Ornaments are more armchair dance music - tap your feet music. Nice too for the after party. (FdW) Address:


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