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Vital Weekly 727

img  Tobias

With all those celebrations (The Haters, The Legendary Pink Dots, Big City Orchestra, Kapotte Muziek), you could easily forget that some people are even longer at the game of extraordinary (to avoid the word 'weird') music. Tom Hamilton for instance got interested in electronic music in 1965 (when yours truly cried for the first time) by attending a lecture by Vladimir Ussachevsky - and then you, who must know, we touch upon the earliest roots of electronic music. Hamilton took up soldering his own synthesizer (now who does that these days?) and since the mid 70s he started to become serious. It was then when he made the two albums on his own Somnath label, which are now being re-issued. I must admit I never heard (of) these before, but I do know lots of electronic composers released their own music on their own labels, long before the d-i-y esthetic became en vogue in the early 80s. The two albums are quite different from each other. 'Formal & Informal Music' is Hamilton along with musicians, 'Pieces For Kohn' is a solo record. The one with other musicians is more along the lines of improvisation. JD Parran on woodwinds and Rich O'Donnell on percussion while Hamilton operates analog synthesizers. The latter seem to be pushed to the background more, which I think is a pity. The improvisations sound quite dated to these ears, more used to the current day of improvisation. I guess its not bad, but its not exactly my kind of music - well, perhaps no more my kind of music. The other record however is much more of my liking. Here Hamilton recorded four tracks of synthesizers sounds and mixed them together. Four tracks was for him an amazing thing in the seventies - hard to understand now, I guess. This is some great, free electronic music. Sometimes nervous and hectic, but in 'Fatehpur' also contemplative and percussive. This is an excellent piece of work. A great find in the vaults of musical history. (FdW)

Like with the previous Dan Froberg release, I still am not sure where I heard the name Dan Froberg before. Then, back in Vital Weekly 629, he released a CD of found sound, field recordings and such like. Now he releases no less than two CDs at the same, time, both on the Ideal Recordings label. Two quite different works that may work out in a similar direction, yet also a bit different. First there is 'At Dawn We All Fall Down The Stairs', which consists of two pieces. The first one opens with spoken word, but quickly moves over, until the very end of the piece, to music created with glass instruments. Wether these are just played or processed, is not easy to say. Not that it matters. Its a great, somewhat long piece of drone music. It could have just a bit more variation, but it sounds fine, with lots of overtones. The second piece, which is much shorter, is all based around field recordings (Mexico says the cover), collated together with some electronic sound (the glass instruments again?). Its a piece that is fine but not great. Maybe a bit too easy stuck together. But the forty some minutes of the title piece is a mighty fine drone indeed.
The second one is all church organ music, which contains the playing of Mikael Wahlin, but then the work is 'constructed' by Froberg. Perhaps some form of electronic processing took place, that is not easy to say. It might be some form of layering various recordings on top of each other, without much electronic trickery at the end. Either seems possible. However in the end, its the result that counts and Froberg has here a nice work of drone like music. But its not a work that entirely stretches the organ sound into a mass of sound, but at times we hear clusters being pressed down, large chords going up and down, and the sound is distinctively that of a church organ. It makes the work occasionally a bit chaotic, but that adds to the quality, oddly enough. Its, what a friend of mine would call, hearth music and not mind music. Hearing these two new works, thinking of the previous work, I must admit I have not much clue about Froberg and what he wants. But then: maybe he doesn't want anything, other than playing great music. (FdW)


J (CD compilation by Zelphabet)
In Zelphabet's letter J we some luminaries and some we may not be well aware off. John Duncan of course is a luminary, even when in recent times we haven't heard from him. We find him in the Tel Aviv Marina 'during a gale-force wind storm', and he has stuck his microphone in the air and captures the wind. Its a fine piece of field recording: things flapping in the wind. On the other side of the fence, in the occupied territories of Palestine, we find Jon Rose, violin player from Australia, who scraps his bow(s) along the fences of an occupied land. A strong piece, but it would be as strong without knowing the Palestinian angle. Before that we had John Wiese, who delivers a piece that is more alike what he does these days. He seems to be moving away from the pure noise music, and starts blending more and more electro-acoustic sounds with noise. Silent parts play a bigger role than before. That's the way to go. Joseph Hammer, of whom I don't think I ever heard, has a strange orchestral piece. At first it seems like something he played himself, but then all sorts of manipulations take place, which made me think of a collage of old vinyl. In a nice way it sounds pretty old fashioned. True noise arrives through Justice Yeldham, conveniently placed at the end. I guess its good, but its a noise standard too. Nothing spectacular, but in its genre quite alright. (FdW) Address:


In Vital Weekly 694 I called Blue Sausage Infant a silly name and I still think it is. Which I thought is a pity since Chester Hawkins plays some rather nice music, as outlined on that previous release, and now, I believe, presents his first real CD. On his previous release, Hawkins played three longer pieces, here he has eight pieces. It seems as if Hawkins takes this opportunity of a real CD to create a display of his many musical interests. It opens up with a piece of plunderphonica and it ends with a lengthy, multi-layered drone piece. In between we had several krautrock pieces, a noise outing, quiet pieces. It would easy to say that the diversity of this release is a bit too much, but curiously enough it isn't. Its as coherent as listening to a nice alternative radio broadcast (does that exist? certainly not in the Vital-world). Its an entertaining set of music here. Nothing lasts very long as there is even variety inside tracks, such as 'Space'. Here opening with noise, but then a voice comes in and the music tones down to a mild violent ambience. Music that is made with some imagination, and care, and dare. This guy might be all over the place, but he knows what he is doing. An excellent release. A must have and a must see when he plays live, I guess. (FdW) Address:

While looking at my floor, thinking it was kinda dirty, the doorbell rings: the postman delivers this 2LP set by Bine Music. I decide that this music, no doubt uplifting and rhythmic, is the perfect soundtrack for springtime cleaning of floors and windows. Whenever I have to switch the record is a good moment to do nothing for two minutes. I am not disappointed in the soundtrack. The bass drum nicely kicks away, there are minimal keyboards and sometimes a somewhat more ambient approach. When I sit down and look at the cover, I notice I heard pieces by Lars Leonhard, Ando, Severence, Fold, Scanner, Tol, Move D, Ben Swire, Benjamin Brunn and Marconi Union. I only recognized three of those names, but if you'd ask me what their tracks sounded like, specially, I would be clueless. That is a bit of a problem with a record (or perhaps the genre as such) like this: it all sounds pretty much the same, certainly if you are not fully initiated in this kind of music (well, that perhaps goes for every musical niche). But I had a fine time doing boring work with some great music. (FdW)


Cindytalk is back, thanks to Editions Mego. The CD released last year (see Vital Weekly 702) was mainly the solo effort of Gordon Sharp, and saw him move towards the computerized music, say that of microsound, ambient, drones and such like, so much to my surprise its a band line up here again. Besides Sharp, who gets the credit for electronics, there is also drums, percussion, more electronics and guitar. The pieces was recorded in Japan last year (in concert?) and consists largely of sustaining notes played with bows on the cymbals, drones created from the guitar and electronics having quite an obscure role in this. Great mood music. Which is exactly what can be said of Robert Hampson on the other side. Great mood music. Just like Cindytalk, Hampson has been active in the underground of the UK music life since more than twenty-five years, as Loop and as Main, and since the last decade mainly under his own name, working in that obscure niche where popmusic meets musique concrete. Popmusic? Things with guitars, more likely. His piece is dedicated to John Cale, another such character on the crossroad of many musical styles. Followings Cindytalk's full sound spectrum approach, Hampson goes out with just a few sounds on his hands. A bowed guitar, some far away crackles and maybe the odd field recording. Carefully constructed as opposed to the somewhat 'live in concert' approach on the other side, but both pieces are complimentary to eachother. An excellent record. I have no idea if Cindytalk now returns as a full band, or that it will continue to confuse us. I hope the latter. (FdW) Address:

Two new releases that have the involvement of Bob Marsh. Marsh is a veteran improvisor who works mainly in the Bay Area in the last few years, but with several connections in Italy as well. You may know him as an improvisor playing electronics, violin, accordion, voice, cello, etc. He has numerous projects and collaborations going on. One of them is his collaboration with that other impressive improvisor Jack Wright. A more recent project is "Eight", where Marsh invited musicians and composers for a sound art work that was released by Setola di Maiale. Falascone was one of the participating artists. Afterwards they decided to intensify their collaborations. And "Non Troppo Lontano" presents their first results. Under the name of Falamar they will play in Europe later this year. His mate Massimo Falascone is new for me. Milan-based Falascone is on the scene since early 80s as an improvisor, performer and composer. He composed music for many film, theatre and video-installations. But improvisation is his main thing from what I can deduce from the information. On this meeting with Marsh he plays saxophones, samples and electronics. Marsh plays violin, voice and electronics. Recordings were done on one day in October 2008. They had a very fruitful meeting I must say. This is really an engaging work of highly experimental and abstract music but at the same time emotionally appealing. An ideal combination if you ask me. All electronic treatments do not diminish on the emotional impact, on the contrary. A fantastic and impressive job by Marsh and Falascone!
The Emergency String (X)tet is an another project led by Marsh. It is an improvisational chamber music ensemble founded by him some fifteen years ago. Nowadays it is a quintet of Adria Otte (violin), Angela Hsu (violin), Bob Marsh (cello), Doug Carrol (cello) and Tony Dryer (double bass). Violinists Adria Otte and Angela Hsu both attended Mills College, cellist Doug Carroll is a veteran Bay Area improviser, and contrabassist Tony Dryer is involved in the electronic noise group Basshaters. We hear them in a live recording at San Francisco's Meridian Gallery on May 19, 2009, in seven short improvisations. I,m glad it are short pieces as this is not very accessible music. It needs your attention in order to absorb if fully. It is full of small subtleties and nuances. A continuous stream of short patterns and runs, everybody doing something else. An example of collective improvisation that in its result is more close to modern music then to jazz. Alas some of the dynamics are lost in this live recording, so that I lose contact with this music. But in the end, it is impressive enough for me to say "I wish I was there". (Dolf Mulder)


Arszyn/Duda is a polish duo by Tomasz Duda (saxophones) and Krzystof Topolski (percussion). Topolski is a drummer and sound artist, operating in the field of electronic and electroacoustic music. Arszyn is his alias. Tomasz Duda studied saxophone and got involved in improvised music by participating in many, many workshops. Both gentlemen played with numerous other musicians from Poland, so I suppose both have their place in the polish scene of improvised and experimental music, of which I don,t know anything I have to admit. On their release "Se" they make their statement in three extended improvisations. The improvisations came into being in the studio. "No cuts, no edtis", we are assured although this is hard to believe in a few passages. Both players have a lot of (extended) techniques at their disposal. And what is more, they use them effectively in creating some inspired improvised music. Especially the expressive playing by Duda is responsible for some outstanding moments in these improvisations, that demonstrate a fine communication between the two. They use all possible registers. Delicate moments are changed for raw outbursts, etc. Sometimes the drummers uses repetitive patterns. Although they stay focussed throughout and they paint varied textures, at times the improvisations are a bit lengthy, and could be more condensed. But above all, we have a fine duo at work here. (Dolf Mulder) Address:


CARLO GIORDANI - SANGLISENTE (CDR by Incisioni Rupestri/Piccolo Fuochi)
An excellent package here, with high quality printed matter, which shows some excellent field photography of the places where Giordani recorded the sounds used in his debut release. High up a mountain, a milk barn, cows and such like. All of these pieces are 'live' recordings Giordani tells us. Pictures of sound, rather than of images. It reminded me of my childhood holidays in the Austrian mountains. The tranquilness of the place, the cow bells in the summer sun upon the field, a rusty door in the barn. Now its sunny outside, yet cold, but with the doors closed, it seems like summer anyway. This private reason makes that I think this is a wonderful release, even when, as such, there isn't much new under the sun. If you like releases on Gruenrekorder, then this is certainly one you should check out. (FdW)


Following Giancarlo Toniutti's 'Igilagiilal Aglalgal', this is the second release in a series of releases that deal with the river Taurion. This time the honors are done by Jos Smolders. On his website you can follow the whole project, from the original invitation until the very end, the release I'm hearing. There are in-depth descriptions of what Jos did and why he does the things that he does. From all the basic material supplied by Cedric Peyronnet, Smolders tried to create an imaginary new river. A pretty interesting read, but its the result that counts of course. Smolders creates a river of sound that is excellently made. We hear bird sounds, heavily processed water sound, that grows from a small stream into a more steady one, but somehow Smolders keeps on depicting a rather gentle stream. Five distinct parts as five parts of this unknown river, which shows a great sense of tranquility and peace. An excellent work. (FdW) Address:


EDWARD KA-SPEL - DEVASCAPES (cassette by Plinkity Plonk)
Making music for tapes... will it start again? The tape-scene was huge and international with a lot of collaborations and compilation worldwide. Edward Ka-Spel was so exciting, Frans de Waard told me, about the The Year 25 - 25 Years Of Korm Plastics tape, that he decided to create a new tape. The result is released at Plinkity Plonk and distributed by Korm Plastics. He recorded six tracks with the title Devascape. Edward Ka-Spel used many soundsources like digital and analog synthesizers, broken zither, radio and devices. What I really like about this tape that it has the atmosphere of the period of tape-scene, but is sounds fresh, noisy, doomy and experimental. The tape starts with spacy synthesizersources, dark sounds and develop slowly. Tones and sounds are passing by. Edward Ka-Spel explores his soundpallett in a wide way. Slowly the sounds become more concrete and the sound of a rutting cat integrates in digital sounds with a pulsing rhythms, which reminds me to sounds of Pink Floyd (Into the Machine) and Tangerine Dream. But the tape develops more abstract and noisy in a meditative mood. Side b starts spacy and develops more noisy to dark atmospheres and thrilling melodies. The tape ends in concrete sounds with loops of voices and fire-cracking. This release is great, because of his variety of sounds and how all these sounds are mixed into an abstract collage. How many tapes will follow of the contributors of the 25th anniversary cassette?? I hope a lot... (Jan-Kees Helms) Address:

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