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Vital Weekly 716

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MONOS - ABOVE THE SKY (CD by ICR Distribution)
PAUL BRADLEY & COLIN POTTER - THE SIMPLE PLAN (CD by ICR Distribution)
As a point of reference its not uncommon for a reviewer to say something like 'sounds like (insert another band name)'. For a lot of drone like music I like to use 'sounds like Ora, Mirror or Monos', but when I received the latest disc by Monos I realized its been a while since I last hear from Monos (come to think of: Mirror no longer exists and Ora is also quiet for some time). But here it is: after a four year hiatus, Monos returns. The line up now is Darren Tate, Colin Potter and Paul Bradley. In March 2006 they played an one-off concert together, which was recorded, but not in a great shape. Various attempts were made to re-create them, and then, a year later, it was decided to add extra layers of sound and an additional piece was recorded. The new piece being more sparse than the first (semi-) live one. Then a third piece is unearthed and a fourth one recorded: these are on the limited bonus disc. It might be no surprise, I guess, when I state I really like this. I am a big lover of drone music, and when in such capable hands as with these boys, then nothing can go wrong. There are field recordings, shimmering electronics and played acoustic (metal sheet? cymbals?), all quietly sustaining in weightless space. Especially 'Cloudless Day' is a fine one, since it all sounds a bit less refined than is usual with this kind of music and has a nice, somewhat rough edge to it. The bonus material seems to be a bit more focussing on the electronic side of things, especially 'Perhaps'. This is all text book drone music: four excellent lengthy pieces mixing field recordings, drones, electronics and acoustics. Monos compares to nothing but Monos.
More music by Bradley and Potter is to be found on 'The Simple Plan'. A full length CD and for those who can't get enough, another limited edition bonus CDR with more material. For this new release they wanted to create something simpler. Play almost live and then with some mixing create a piece of music. Potter and Bradley both play guitar and synthesizers here, Bradley for the first time on a keyboard. I like simple plans. Especially when they are in the hands of musicians who know how to shape a simple plan. Its hard to avoid when you release two such things at the same time, but throughout I think Monos is the better release. The ambient music of the Bradley/Potter duo is very nice, but also a bit standard, perhaps. Good, sturdy music, played with great care, beautiful and all that, but also nothing very new under the sun. Maybe, and perhaps oddly, the interesting bits are to be found on the bonus, which are reworkings of the original recordings, two by Potter and one by Bradley. Here too perhaps not that much 'newness' around, but the darkness of the drones combined with a bit more abstract nature of the material, make this a great bonus. I am not saying that this is a lesser release than the Monos one, but when comparing the two, the Monos is better. I know lots of people who sign for the quality of Potter and Bradley! Two fine releases - well, four actually! (FdW)
Address: http://www.icrdistribution.com

 

DEISON & KK NULL - INTO (CD by Silentes)
Quite an extended part of the work of KK Null deals with collaborations, such as with Z'EV, Alexei Borisov, Zbigniew Karkowski, Jim O'Rourke and loads more. His primary instrument was once the drums (as with his bands Zeni Geva and Absolute Null Punkt), but in these collaborations Null deals with electronics. Here he teams with a man who met him fifteen years ago, when he was setting up concerts for Zeni Geva in Italy: Deison. He has worked with Lasse Marhaug and Sshe Retina Stimulans and ran the Loud! label. They collaborated, I guess, through mail, sending back and forth sound material. If you'd expect some heavy noise based stuff, then you are mistaken about the work of Null (and perhaps of Deison too, but I must admit I don't know his work that well). It moves these days from brutal noise attacks to very clean, mild, almost ambient like works and this work is a fine example of that. The closing piece is 'To' and quite brutal, feedback like. In the nine pieces before this we have been on a great journey of electronic music. Always abstract, always electronic, but almost never the same thing twice. From soft passages to loud ones, from clicking, rhythmic sounds to dense fields of waving electronics. Its all there. A great variety is presented here, which for once doesn't stand in the way: this remains a very coherent release. It may not appeal to the pure noise heads, but it should broaden their mind a little bit, I guess. Great one. (FdW) Address: http://www.silentes.net

 

MARC BEHRENS - SLEPPET (CD by Cronica Electronica)
Its been a while, I think, since I last heard music by Marc Behrens. Perhaps he is not as active anymore when it comes to releasing records? And perhaps more doing commissioned works by, say, German radio? Like this one, which was made for Deutschlandradio Kultur. Unless I am mistaken, I think I heard him play this material in a concert somewhere in 2007, and with his witty introduction by him about he just could escape some heavy block of snow falling. This work was recorded in Norway, in early spring time, when snow disappears and birds return. Both are heavily present in this piece. Seeing this coming in what seems to be the harshest winter in The Netherlands in several years, the sound of snow is now a familiar one. Just today I also noticed birds are still present here and not all escape to warmer parts of the world (maybe that's a climate change thing I guess). This is a pretty strong piece. Water drops, birds, snow sounds but also motorized sounds of a powerplant and a ferry, along rumble of a kind I don't recognize. Things move from quite soft to pretty loud, all in a great balance. An electro-acoustic work in great form. Untreated sounds along with short looped bits and computerized processing of the original sounds. A fascinating journey throughout: warm music as it happens for cold days. (FdW)
Address: http://www.cronicaelectronica.org

 

ROBIN HAYWARD - STATES OF RUSHING (CD by Choose Records)
Elsewhere I write solo improvisers and that perhaps its not the best idea in the world to have them solo on a release. Maybe that is not entirely true, as proven here by tuba player Robin Hayward. Born in Brighton but since 1998 in Berlin where he plays works by the likes of Alvin Lucier and Christian Wolff as well as his own. Ok, so the word 'improvisation' isn't mentioned here, but it may sound like it is the work of some improvisation? What doesn't work that with Evan Dorrian (see elsewhere) works wonderfully well with this release. Hayward manages to make the tuba sound like anything but a brass instrument - well, in fact anything but a real instrument. It starts out with the very soft 'Trailer', in which one needs to crank up the volume quite a bit. You may think 'ah one of those soft improvisation releases', which is perhaps true, until, after three more relatively quiet tracks 'Treader' kicks in - loud and clear. Its almost like a techno bass rhythm being played here, but then just as a bass thing. Like an acoustic Pan Sonic, but then much longer and highly minimal. No electronic processing was used here. The next piece is again also louder, following by the very soft 'Harc' piece. Hayward makes his instrument grunt, rumble, crackle. An electro-acoustic investigation of one instrument, stretching the boundaries of his instrument beyond the ordinary - taking it into a wholly new place. An excellent release. (FdW)
Address: http://www.choose-records.de

 

AMY X NEUBURG & THE CELLO CHIXTET - THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF SUBWAYS (CD by Minmaxmusic)
A beauty this one. Let's say an album of "chamber pop". Dozens of references were triggered: Fibonaccis, Kurt Weil, opera, Kate Bush, cabaret, Laurie Anderson, Dagmar Krause, etc, etc. We have here a collection of 13 very accessible songs, but too much avant garde and experimental to reach a bigger audience I,m afraid. The first time I was impressed by the combination of voice and cello was through the work of Arthur Russell many years ago. On this new work of Amy X Neuburg we find the same combination. The classically trained voice of Neuburg combined with three equally skilled cello players: Jessica Ivry, Elaine Kreston and Elizabeth Vandervennet. Besides voice, Neuburg also makes effective and sparse use of electronics and drums. Also she uses the technique of multi-layering voices. It is surprising that this music was created for a live performance, what makes this recording even more astonishing as the role of technique is considerable. The creator is Amy X Neuburg who wrote all music and lyrics, except for the improvisation "Tongues" and the closing track "Back in NY" by Genesis. After "Residue" by Amy X Neuburg & Men, it took her about 5 years to return with a new CD, this time as Amy X Neuburg & The Cello Chixtet. I don't know much of her musical past. From what I understand she is best known for her live solo performances, using MIDI drum kit, sounds and samples.
"The Secret Language of Subways" shows that Neuburg is open for many influences, eclectic in a way, but her pronounced musical language and vision binds everything strongly together following a convincing inner logic. This makes it sound all very natural and undivided. Her songs are carefully modeled and arranged. I guess it must have taken quite some time to sculpt all this material. For sure Neuburg is a very skilled composer, singer and performer. The narrative and dramatic content of the texts are very precise and beautifully accentuated in the music and its the performance. With each listening I discover new subtleties. No doubt this will continue. (Dolf Mulder) Address: http://www.minmaxmusic.com/

 

SEND + RECEIVE (double DVD by Send + Receive)
Occasionally Vital Weekly may have printed the line up of the Send & Receive festival, held yearly in Winnipeg, Canada, but it escaped me that they have been going on since 1998. To celebrate the first ten years a box was released with an extensive booklet about the artists who performing there, one DVD with music and one DVD with a documentary. The music DVD has no visuals, just music. And what an amount! This is not a compilation with snippets of music, this is, at least at time complete performances. Say Jason Kahn forty minutes, Oval twenty six, Lee Ranaldo & Dean Roberts one hour, Tim Hecker thirty-nine, Thomas Jirku almost fifty minutes etc? Altogether its almost eleven hours of music. Not something you would digest at once I guess. I'd recommend with starting with the documentary on the second disc. Here various people involved in the festival explain what the festival is about - experimental music in the broadest sense of the word, which is nice, but also we get fragment glimpses of concerts. We see Oval behind his laptop and devices (last minutes of his concerts and immediately packing up, not noting the sheers from the audience), Cindy with a cello, installation by Carsten Nicolai, obscure mechanisms by Micheal Dumontier or David Grubbs just with his acoustic guitar. Not a festival for those who do just laptop concerts, although there are who do (Tomas Jirku, Duul_drv). Also we see some people people not on present on the other DVD like Gert-Jan Prins, Skolz Kolgen, Otomo Yoshihide and Kaffe Matthews. Great to see, it gives the aspiring musician lots of ideas. From the live DVD its good to hear David Grubbs (although with four minutes the shortest concert here), Jirku's laidback dubby techno, the grainy textures of Tim Hecker, Kahn always fine minimalist electronics and drumming, I8U likewise minimalism of laptop processing and Oren Ambarchi's guitar playing erupting. And that's not even half of it. The sound quality varies from line recording to microphone recordings, which makes changes quite abrupt, but altogether this is a package that keeps you busy for an entire sunday, but what else should you do on such a day anyway? (FdW) Address: http://www.sendandreceive.org

 

LARS-GUNNAR BODIN - JENSEITS-BEYOND (CD by Firework Edition)
JEAN-PHILIPPE ANTOINE/MARCEL BROODTHAERS/LEIF ELGGREN - OBJET METAL ESPRIT (7" by Firework Edition)
The career of Lars-Gunnar Bodin (1935) started already in the sixties when he was influenced by John Cage and David Tudor. His early works were concrete poetry and later also electr-acoustic work and electronic work. Apparently there is also a volume one of his work, as this is volume two, focussing on sound art from 1989 to 2004. Six pieces here from this period, and no concrete poetry. Each of the pieces is described in the booklet, which is makes a fine read when listening to the music. It shows his various fascinations with sound but also other things, such as piece dedicated to his father. With seventy-six minutes of music this is quite a heavy work - in terms of duration. I must admit that I first played three, then put it aside for a while, and then returned for the next three. This is great music, but perhaps at times also a bit dry and academic. Sounds bounce up and down in and outside the piece - in each piece that is. Like said, this is not easy music to take in in one go, but throughout very nice.
The 7" deals with Marcel Broodthaers and his open letter to 'all customers and anyone interested' in his fictional museum which he ran from 1968 to 1972. It deals with the words 'object, metal, spirit' written on a telephone. Jean-Philippe Antoine and Leif Elggren interpret this, or rather keep the line open after forty years in the five pieces on this 7". One is a sound poetry like piece for one voice, or one with five voices and one is an organ like piece (by Elggren). A highly conceptual little record that leaves much room to think about rather than the pure entertainment a record would normally bring. A different kind of entertainment, more a thought running through time. (FdW)
Address: http://www.fireworkeditionsrecords.com

 

AUN - UTICA (7" by Drone Records)
CTPEHIN - DUAD (7" by Drone Records)
MELANCHOLOLICS - MASKING MY MONKEYS (7" by Drone Records)
Now that we are approaching the 100th Drone Records, the last bundle of three arrive (DR 96, 97 and 98), and the first is by Aun from Montreal. He has produced some CDs for Oral and this 7" is his first vinyl release. Aun plays guitar and sound effects and his music can be soft or loud, but always seem to operate inside the territory of drone music. The title track is quite loud, and reminded me of Our Love Will Destroy The World: an orgasmic explosion of drone music. 'Lelehudah' on the other side is a more reflective piece of music. The distortion pedal is used to a great effect: far away yearning in the background. Two fine pieces, which made me want a bit more.
Ctpehin is a duo from Russia of SIF and Aedria Hughes, sometimes with friends and their seven (!) children. Previously I reviewed a 3 CDR from them. Here too the a-side is quite loud and vicious - a brain splitting piece of drone music, but maybe a bit too heavy for me. Here too the other side is much softer, and ultimately much nicer I think. Some grainy, lo-fi guitar sound, field recordings of heavy rain fall and obscured effects from the world of cassettes. An excellent piece.
I never heard of the Melanchoholics, which apparently is a trio from Germany, who have a conventional line up of guitar, bass and electronic sounds. They come from a background of death metal, grindcore and industrial music - yet this isn't shown on this 7". The music is very coherent here, with a great moody piece on the a-side, which fades out - unfortunately as this could have lasted much longer (one of those major disadvantages of the format). The other side has a like wise moody tune, but here the guitar sounds out. Lots of reverb to create a lot of melancholy. This works more as a song, rather than an outtake, and makes a wonderful 7". Who are they I wondered? (FdW) Address: http://www.dronerecords.de

 

CHEMINS - CDR #2 (CDR, private)
Back in Vital Weekly 707 I was pleasantly surprised by a release from Chemins from Finland. One untitled piece of twenty minutes, and on their second release they continue that: another untitled twenty minute piece. Drums seem to have a more loose percussive role here, but otherwise it continues the lines set forward as before. Improvisation for a rock group line up playing some mood induced music, incorporating field recordings. The piece here is in two parts (cut as one track). The first is soft and moody, with repeating loops of sound, while the second works its way up to some noisy climax, before dying out. A great piece I think, and again: this should be picked up by one of the many CDR labels, as this deserves more attention. (FdW) Address: http://www.cheminsgroup.blogspot.com

 

FEDERICO BARABINO/KAZUYA ISHIGAMI (CDR by Neus 318)
The great thing about this release is the extended liner notes that come with it. Everything you always wanted to know about Federico Barabino and Kazuya Ishigami. The latter is the man behind the label, and who worked with Billy?, Daruin and a whole bunch of others. These days he is mainly into computer music. The piece he has on this release is 'CARSAJ' (which is Jasrac in reverse, the Japanese mechanical rights organisation). He uses as an input the sounds from a concert of last year, which he feeds through some computer patch, depicted on the insert. Its a nice piece of flickering sounds, microbes eating away the notes, but also not the most original pieces in the world. Its surely nice enough however.
Barabino's main instrument is the guitar, which studies and teaches. His interest is in a wide musical field, but perhaps we only get to hear his more experimental work which he releases around the world and sometimes in collaboration with others, such Don Campau or Charles Rice Goff III. In his piece here, called 'Solo En Vivo III', its hard to recognize the guitar as such. The guitar (perhaps acoustic or semi-acoustic) is used as a resonator to create a sine wave like pattern, which penetrates straight into your brain if you play this loud. It changes only in a minimal fashion over the course of the twenty some minutes. Very much like a great Alvin Lucier piece. An excellent piece. (FdW) Address: http://www.neus318.com

 

BRUNO MOREIGNE - ANEMOS VOL. 2 (3"CDR by Kaon)
Following the first volume of 'Anemos' (see Vital Weekly 706), here is the second one. Moreigne, not known as a very active composer, again goes out in the woods of rural France to record his sound material for what will be a five part series. The usual elements are there, again, like birds, water, insects rain and of course the wind. The wind is what it also revolves (or rather evolves) about. It takes a while before we are there, as we first hear a lot of other sounds, church bells and such like included. It almost makes you want to a book a holiday into that rural French areas. Although this is actually nice, perhaps as nice as the previous, its not something we haven't heard before. I wonder how this series will evolve. Will it be five similar discs or will there be some sort of development towards the compositional technique applied? This again seems a sequence of various events, rather than a layered composition or a single event. We'll wait and see. (FdW) Address: http://www.kaon.org

 

M. OSTERMEIER - PERCOLATE (3"CDR by [parvoart])
ADVENT (Compilation 3"CDR by [parvoart])
In the days of icy temperatures and snow-white landscapes in the Copenhagen area, the reception of two releases from microlabel [parvoart] is like a gift from heaven. The name of the German based label is unnecessarily to say, a dedication to Baltic contemporary classical composer Arvo Pärt, but the term also refers to the latin word for "Small" art. The basic part of the catalogue of the label thus is released as a 3"-inch sized format and a limited playing time approx. 25 minutes. This is also the case with the two latest releases from the label. First album is a solo release of Maryland-based composer Marc Ostermeier who has a background in the postrock-band "Should". A fact that is easily demonstrated on this debut release on [parvoart] with the strong emphasis on acoustic expressions of piano and momentarily shoegazer-like guitar. The acoustic parts are combined with electronic sound and downbeat rhythm textures always staying the nocturnal and melancholic spheres. Truely engaging album from M. Ostermeier who will also release another mini album on the Hibernate label. Next album is a mini sampler of the label. With the title "Advent", the label nails the fact that main catalogue, counting 12 releases over two years, is soundtracks of autumnal and wintry expressions. And the nine contributions present album stays in the melancholic atmospheres of the dark winter period, with the common denominator of being relatively short pieces with average playing time of 2-3 minutes. The quality of ambience is very high on this 25 minutes journey through the first years of [parvoart]. A main ingredient in quite a few of the contributions are acoustic elements such as piano and guitar. So many great moments on this compilation and not one single dull second, this is the perfect entry for everyone to check out this amazing label. Essential ambient!
Address: http://www.parvoart.org

 

DRIPHOUSE - ROMATI & GAINS (cassette by Baked Tapes)
WASTELAND JAZZ UNTI/(D)(B)(H) (cassette by Baked Tapes)
SLASHER RISK - CHILLERS (cassette by Baked Tapes)
Three tapes from Baked Tapes, with a varying degree of information, but no address on all of them for the label. Nice printed covers though. A website is quickly found, but also doesn't tell much more about the artists. It seems to be a mixed bag, music-wise this label. The first one is by Driphouse, recorded straight to computer, using a Roland Alpha Juno 1 and Electro-Harmonix Memory Man. This is exactly the kind of stuff why I like tapes, still, after all these years. A simple keyboard thing running around, a bit cosmic even, but also played with a great sense of naivety. Improvisation, but not in a way that is normally used here. This guy just fiddles about, makes mistakes, leaves them in while the tape is still running. This could have been released in 1985, I got it on a trade and thought it was very nice. Now its 2010, and I still am a sucker of things like this.
Something entirely different is the split by Wasteland Jazz Unit and (D)(B)(H), which in this case stands for (D)amaged (B)achelor (H)ood. Both have been reviewed before. The first time (in Vital Weekly 676) I heard Wasteland Jazz Unit I thought they were the grandsons of Borbetomagus. The line up of Jon Lorenz on saxophones and one John Rich on clarinets hasn't changed, but the music has a bit. It starts out with some electronic sounds panning left to right, before exploding into noise - ah the Borbetomagus sound revived. Like noted before, this is actually the noise I like. Lots of infuriating power of two instruments crashing at high speed and mucho energy. On the other side (D)amaged (B)achelor (H)ood, of whom we recently heard two CDR releases on Friends & Relatives Records (see Vital Weekly 710). This floating membership band deal with improvised from a noise rock end. Drums lack here, but there are three guitars, a bass, a floor tom, cymbal (ok, perhaps there are drums) and someone opening and closing a door (if ever you want to be a non-musician: there is your door to fame). They play not as noise based as Wasteland Jazz Unit, but perhaps that has to do with the somewhat lower recording quality? When compared to the two previous releases I heard by them, I think this one is closest to 'A Shredded Leaf Doesn't Blow'. The music goes on and on, but throughout seems to lack attention and detail, and was probably more fun to play as a musician (even the one on the door) than it is to hear from the listener, divided by time and place from the actual recording.
No information at all on Slasher Risk's 'Chillers' tape - but the cover is a nice full color print. Unfocussed is a word that also applies here. The music starts and then never seems to stop. A bit of a messy sound of electronics, loops perhaps feeding through a bunch of stomp boxes. It sounds all fairly simple (but albeit of an entirely different kind than Driphouse), and no doubt its created as such, but its strangely captivating, in a sort of lo-fi psychedelic way. It runs for almost an hour, only separated by a break on the end of side A. One long hallucinating sort of noise drone. Also very 80s, I guess. Very nice one. (FdW)
Address: http://www.thebakeryfloor.com/bt/

 

STEPHAN MATHIEU - 10 MINUTES (download from Ash International)
Ok, the rule is that we no longer review online releases. I make those rules, so I can also break them if I want to. I like to make this exception for the release by Stephan Mathieu. Not only a highly amiable man, but also a producer of all fine things music wise. The description is clear: ""Nine webcam movies for handheld devices shot with my laptop's camera between September and October 2009. The soundtrack is basically what was playing then." Mathieu has a fascination for flickering images, not man produced (well, not necessarily), but from natural events. The wind moves the curtain and the sun tries to burst in. Light on an old shellac (and incidentally picking up the sound from the shellac). Images from the garden, shadow of trees. Simply process like images and accidental sound, which however fits the image well (or vice versa of course: the image fit well to the music). A short sweet production, that, had I one, I would stick immediately on my iphone/ipad/mobile. In fact I wouldn't mind to have all of these as 10 minutes pieces each. (FdW)
Address: http://www.ashinternational.com/editions/ash_86_stephan_mathieu_10_minutes.html

 

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