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Vital Weekly 728

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More field recordings here, this time around taken from the Amazonas, Brazil, to precise the Mamori Lake. Shoemaker went around and inside the lake. He tapes the sounds there and treats the whole thing into one piece of music that lasts forty-six minutes. I have never been to the Amazonian rainforest, nor it is perfectly clear what Shoemaker did to the recordings. That aside, this is a great work. If I was to imagine how the Amazonian rainforest would sound like, I think it would sound like this. A fairly thick mass of sound of busy buzzing insect sounds, birds and wind like sounds. Shoemaker opts for a dramatic approach in this work: things start out relatively quiet and moody, but over the course of those sixty some minutes grows with some violent intention. Shoemaker uses strong equalization, adding low end sounds to the piece, that makes the earth tremble among the heavy weight of this piece. Yet he never looses the clarity of the sounds, birds and insects are always to be recognized here. An excellent piece along the lines of the best of Francisco Lopez in this field, especially 'La Selva' (which I think deserves a re-issue). Shoemaker delivers here a great work, perhaps his best so far. (FdW) Address: <>


EMERALDS (CD by Hanson)
As said in my review of Mekanik Kommando, the more you have with an old release, the more you'll like the re-issue. So, I never heard of Little Howlin'wolf, also known as James Pobiega, who released 'Cool Truth' in 1985. Even when I was into self-released material then, but perhaps not into those containing blues and free form jazz. The LP is now re-issued on a CD (and sounds like mastered from the vinyl) and I'm sure its a timeless classic. But not in my book. Lots of avant-garde playing - all by Pobiega, going wild over the multi-track recorder - making hardly any sense, but hey, if you want really free improvisation, free jazz, with some blues like vocals, then this is surely your cup of tea. I like coffee.
Due to volcanic activities all of the week's mail arrive on the same day, it seems, but I realize that when looking at the pictures in the booklet that comes along with the Emeralds new CD. It looks like what I saw on TV this week from Iceland. Emeralds are a trio that play the Korg MS-10, Roland RS-101, Sequencer, Roland JX-8P, micromoog, gibson les paul, while all three members get credit for vocals (where???). Emeralds are something of 'stars' I believe, selling a loads of CDs, which I think is actually quite funny, since what they do is so outdated. Cosmic music along the lines of early seventies Tangerine Dream. 'Geode' is such a piece: a driving, sequenced synthesizer sound over which other synths bleep and bloop. In another time, say twenty years ago, it would be hard to sell this to any recordlabel, but now the noise kids left noise and welcomed this cosmic music, its all hip again. You may think that I am an old cynic, but that's far from the truth. I love this. I loved the old cosmic sound, even when born a bit late of the first time around, and have put my finger on the arpeggio button myself once or twice, so I know the kind of music quite well, and I think Emeralds are great at what they are doing. More than before they move to the work of the old masters and can easily meet with the best. I have no idea if they are to make hundreds of releases, like one K. Schulze, but for now its all fine. Light a joint and a candle and drift away. (FdW) Address:


KLANGWART - SOMMER (CD by Staubgold)
These two releases mark the end of the 'old' Staubgold. By reaching catalogue number 100, always a landmark for small label I guess, its decided that in the future we have Staubgold Digital for CDs and downloads and Staubgold Analog for vinyl. I am not sure how they would treat a release like 'Sommer' by Klangwart, which is available as a LP, CD and download, but the future will tell us. Both of these releases are by Markus Detmer, the owner of Staubgold. Once in a role as a musician and one as the compiler/DJ of service. As a musician he works since 18 years with Timo Reuber as Klangwart, and the two have built a small but nice catalogue of works in the field of electronic music. These days they conceive a piece, play it live and then record a 'live' version. Over the years there have been a number of collaborations, remixes and compilation tracks, which are now collected on 'Sommer'. A pity that my copy doesn't provide the necessary background details (nor does the press release). The release dates are in the summer (promotion starts always early, but @ Vital Weekly we're always quick, if no volcano interrupts the flow) and the summer feel is what they want in these release. Now the sun is actually shining around here - what am I doing inside - but these songs are probably indeed heard on headphones while taking a sunny stroll or lying on the beach. Klangwart play psychedelic music. They play their own brand of krautrock, which shows influences of Neu!. The rhythmachine tick away time, and on top they wave together a fine blend of electronic sounds and looped voices. Driving music too. Open the windows of your car, drive around and play a piece like 'Wellenbad' really loud, and you get that same great summer feel. In the evening you lie on your back - sweaty and 'Amobenruh' closes the day with a nice sorrowful tune. But that's ok. Tomorrow is another sunny day.
Detmer is also responsible for a 'DJ mix' CD of his own label's catalogue (following a release along those lines by Peter Grummich and Alec Empire). He chooses no less than twenty-one tracks from his 100 releases, which he mixes together. Since I'm no DJ its not easy to say something about it. Its a great label sampler, that's for sure. We get the whole picture of the label, from post rock to jazz to folktronic to electronic rhythms, krautrock and drones. There is always a strange poppiness to the material. Its a great reminder for old Staubgold releases like Thilges, Oren Ambarchi, Hassle Hound or Faust. Odd ball? Well, that must be the forecast to The Flying Lizards, which has catalogue number Staubgold Analog 3, so no doubt to come in the future. That shows a daring move as its from the reggea/dub phase of the band (and as Lizard fan makes me very curious!), but then Staubgold has already proven to be a great label with some daring moves already. Onwards to another great 100 releases, analog or digital. (FdW) Address:


This is the third release by Matt Davignon, following 'Bwoo' (see Vital Weekly 475 and 'Softwetfish' (see Vital Weekly 545). He used to work with field recordings, turntable, prepared instruments and household objects, but since 2004 he solely works with a drum machine, which he processes in various ways. The bad news first: there is not much difference with the two previous releases. His drum machine is never to be recognized as such, but his electronic processing is quite nice. What I wrote of 'Softwetfish' applies here too. Its all a bit like 'Bwoo' and that perhaps is a pity. However, the good news is that is that Davignon delivers once again a great musical CD. His work is best described as mildly experimental, with some nice ambient texture to it. Not too forceful this is music that owes to some extent to the work of Asmus Tietchens. Microscopic textures, which resemble the crawling of lots of insects. The surprise is gone, that is a sure thing, but its certainly a disc of high quality. With such a low production scheme this is certainly nothing to worry about. A slight change of modus operandi would be nice, to see what other possibilities there are. (FdW)


Diatribes is a duo from Geneva and consists of d'Incise on laptop/objects and Cyril Bondi on drums. D'Incise is very active with improvised music, free-jazz and electro-acoustic music. He is also running the netlabel Insubordinations. Diatribes started in 2004 and collaborated with a huge amount of guest musicians. The last combination is with the double bass player Barry Guy. Barry Guy is one of the world's leading bass soloists and improvisers, played in a lot of ensembles and is also as a composer of new music. Multitude starts as a highspeed train. The first three compositions are full of maniac compositions. The drums and bass freely play restless around and the electronic sounds fits well to these acoustic improvisations. The race ended during the fourth composition and the slow played bass combines the moving drums and laptop regurgitations. "Ne plus avoir peur des montres" goes wild again with high tones in combination with the very low and slow tones of the bass and ended in a complex improvisation. The last two tracks explore the different moods and speeds. After a free dynamic intercourse the album ends with a peacefull alternation of fleeding tones. These moments of rest are very welcome. This album is well-played, dynamic, complex and a feast for the lover of improvised music. Highly recommended. (Jan-Kees Helms) Address:


Three new releases from the Canadian Drip Audio label. 'Creesus Crisis' is the first recording from the Calgary-based trio No More Shapes, formed in 2007 and featuring Jay Crocker (guitar, electronics), JC. Jones (trombone) and Eric Hamelin (drums, percussion). Inspiration comes from rock as well as jazz. Sometimes it is very straight, at other moments rather complex. Although the ingredients that make up their music are easy to identify, still they manage to create their own thing. The performing is very tight, and this is what convinced me most. With all the energy of the three players bundled, the players move very decisive towards their target. Inhabitants, a quartet from Vancouver is ready for their third release on Drip Audio since their start in 2004. Skye Brooks (drums), JP Carter (Trumpet), Pete Schmitt (bass) and Davi Sikula (guitar). They play post-rock oriented instrumental rock with fusion and noise elements. The CD opens in a melancholy mood with 'Far Away in Old Words'. The next tune 'Threes' triggers some allergic reactions in my ears. A pathetic tune that suggests more then it can offer. They create dramatic soundscapes and noises over essentially very simple and straight rock patterns. Okay, from time to time a surprising twist occurs like in 'Over it begins'. Also nice deformed playing by trumpeter Carter with great distorted sounds. Very well done. But this is not enough for making this an interesting album in my view. Their dreamy and moody paintings lack body and deserve more compositional originality.
Drummer Skye Brooks is also member of Tommy Babin's Benzene, again a quartet but now we are more in a jazz vein, together with Chad Makela (baritone sax), Chad Mac Quarie (guitar) and leader Tommy Babin (bass). 'Your Body is Your Prison' is a suite in nine parts composed by Babin. Although composed, I suppose much room is left for improvisation. The music is a mixture of rock and jazz, but far from fusion of jazzrock. They develop nice intertwining lines, reaching from time to time explosive climaxes. The playing by Makela started to irritate me after a while. There is something I miss in his playing. In a way it is very limited. He does not go for it. The guitar playing by Chad Mac Quarie is on the other end of the spectrum. A fantastic player, who definitely steals the show on this record. How complex the music may be, it is far from intellectual, but very direct and emotional. (Dolf Mulder)


Up until last year Francisco Meirino used the name Phroq as an alias, but like so many he left that behind and now works under his own name. Its interesting to see that similarity with Joe Colley (formerly known as Crawl Unit) and Andy Orthmann (Panicsville). There is also another parallel to be drawn between these three. They all have a background in good solid noise, but when working under the own name, their all seems to have opened up the noise approach in favor of musique concrete. By incorporating electro-acoustic sounds and field recordings, along with heavily processed versions thereof, they create their own approach to noise, and one that is actually all the more interesting. Meirino here has the same approach as on 'Connections, Opportunities For Mistakes' (which I don't got reviewed here): the beauty of failure. Gear breaking down, the death of a PA system, electro-static noise and such like. These events are not presented 'as such', but the sounds are used in various combinations, in a strong musical collage. Sometimes dense, sometimes stretched out, but then also at other times abrupt endings (the failure ending in a full stop), swift changes in the material. The cover says we should hear these six pieces as one track (although individually titled), which then probably even makes more sense. A pretty strong work, I'd say. If more noise was like this and not the storm of distortion, then I'd be more than happy. Even when this release opens with 'Winning Is Overrated', I'd say this is a winner. (FdW) Address:


THE ANCIENT LOWLY - TOPOGRAPHY (CDR by Crabouiller Record Company)
Behind The Ancient Lowly is one Don Mennerich. In his discography we find a 7" with Greg Davis and a piece for a Neo Ouija compilation and Grounded Sound. That may indicate, perhaps, his interest. He uses here an acoustic guitar, soprano saxophone, organ, computer and moracca but the main beast here is a modular synthesizer, "Blacet Research,, Encore Electronics, Metalbox modules" - it says on the cover. The overall emphasis in the music lies within the modular synthesizer sounds. The other instruments seem to play a much smaller role. The moracca open up 'Pellet' for instance, but soon enough the synth bubbles drop in. Yet this track, with its distinct acoustic guitar and organ, is the most accessible piece on this five track disc (which lasts under twenty minutes) - a nice, gentle piece of music, reminding me of Greg Davis. The other four tracks are more abstract and angular in approach, with thick masses of synthesizer sounds running rampant - in a gentle way. An excellent release, drifting in various directions, ambient like, a bit noise like, psychedelic, yet always coming round again. Nice indeed. (FdW)


'Studies Of A Figure In A Space' is a performance by Bram Vreeswijk and performed by Alfredo Fernandez. The music, three studies and an interlude, is composed by Machinefabriek's Rutger Zuydervelt. Of course we are lacking the performance on this release, we just have the music. It seems, but I admit that's merely guessing, that this performance is one of slow moves. In 'Study 2', there is also the use of cymbals, played by Rob van den Nieuwenhuizen, although its hard to hear them. The music in all four pieces is the by now classic approach of Machinefabriek. Long sustaining tones of guitar notes, played sparsely, but once captured inside a line of electronics, they live on a bit more and die out slowly. the first study is light of tone, while the second is more dark, grainy and a bit distorted, and it takes a long while to die out like a campfire. The third study is also a bit more noise based, with a distortion pedal pushed to the floor, but in a controlled environment. The interlude is a very quiet, almost non existing piece. Quite a powerful release, if perhaps not to far away from what we already know. (FdW) Address:


The ever so odd La Grieta, a duo of Mattin and Inigo Eguillor, return with a five piece CDR. A duo of drum and guitar and electronics, bits of vocal. Here Black Petal draws lines between them and Dead C, ESG, Swans, Pink Reason and Merzbow. Its not all that I hear in here, but surely Dead C and Swans, I think I can life with those lines. The slow 'Obsesion' with rolling percussion and a far away voice is Swans like, though not as heavy. This guitar/drum noise duo record in a garage and in the studio. It would be interesting to hook them up in a real studio one day and get a great production/mix from the various instruments, and move away from the somewhat 'muddy', lo-fi music it is now. Which is not to say anything bad about this release. It has a great raw power that somehow is also part of this kind of music. Three of the five tracks may be a bit long, but it has a strange psychedelic sense to it. Their use of electronics is what sets them apart from the average rock noise group, strangely cutting into the sounds, usually the vocals, which add an odd, alien feeling to the music. Excellent slow dirty mayhem. (FdW) Address:


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