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Vital Weekly 730

img  Tobias Fischer

The French label D'Autres Cordes releases music with some background in improvised music, even jazzy at times, but here they blast away with the third album by Franck Vigroux. His first two didn't make it to Vital Weekly, but last's album with Matthew Borne. An odd mixture of jazz and electro-acoustic music. All album full of music, from top to bottom filled up. On this third solo CD, Vigroux uses analogue synth, drum machines, samplers, turntables, vocoder and such like. Just what he is up to, I was thinking. This has to do with improvisation... just being very little. Although I can believe that parts of these pieces were improvised, the outcome has nothing to do with improvised music as we know it. The music is loud, distorted, even noise based perhaps but also heavy on the rhythm. Think short outbursts of Merzbow backed by the rhythms of Pan Sonic and you are close to it. A furious, energetic album, with again hardly a moment to rest and sit back. It hammers and bang on. The missing link, between the record right above by Kabutogani and right below by Russell Haswell. Much louder than the first, not playing the exact same noise card of the latter. Vigroux manages to find a balance between the clean clicks and cuts movement and the analogue (?) noise mass. Breathless and tired, the listener is left behind. (FdW) Address:

Back in Vital Weekly 699 I was pleasantly surprised by 'Wild Tracks' by Russell Haswell, a work of "'deliberate recordings' made with other multi media/film projects in mind". No post processing, overdubs or compression." For this new double CD, the cover tells us 'non stop free improvisation (where possible), over overdubs, no crossfades'. This one doesn't seem to be too much (if at all) involved with field recordings and more about electronics. Now that's where the cover isn't to clear about things. What kind of electronics? Based on his previous work, I'd say computer noise in some way or another, but then I might be entirely wrong (although one track is called 'Computer nO!se' - unless he wants to emphasize the O! thing, but that's something I doubt); the cover lists a variety of computer devices and outboard stuff but then maybe Vanilla Electronics may not mean that much. Anyway the records are pretty interesting, and again Haswell takes me by surprise. This is not the noise onslaught as he know him for, but a whole bunch of interesting electronic pieces. 'Value' has sixteen pieces, of which the last two are pretty long, and 'Bonus' has a shorter piece and one very long one. On 'Value' the shorter pieces seem to me studies in sound. An 'event' is started, there are some variations and then that's it. Drone like but then of a more 'pressing' nature. Pieces created with static (white, pink, black and brown noise) or a slowed down voice, which warn us for loud sounds, and indeed the tracks following that are crushingly loud, until the fourteenth piece which sounded like Hecker and Autechre meeting up, followed by lengthy noise excursions. I had the odd idea about this being some sort of conceptual audiophile test record, but perhaps I am thinking the wrong way here. The short piece on 'Bonus' (which lasts ten minutes anyway) has a bird call like sound, perhaps as a loop. The other piece, which lasts over an hour, consists of searching the radio waves. Maybe a layered thing of various improvisations, maybe a 'live to disc'. Nice enough for sure, but not too good to stand its own feet, but certainly works well as a bonus. Point proven. Over two hours of highly demanding music - from noise, to more silent stuff, techno and riding the radio waves. Excellent. (FdW) Address:


The third release in the Unfathomless series is a duo release of two artists bringing sounds to the table from their own places. Nicolas Szczepanik from Washington and one Juan Jose Calarco from Buenos Aires. They traded these sounds and then started to work on processing these. This resulted in the three pieces on this CD. Its hard to recognize the busy urban life in these pieces. Just as much as you would guess, this could also be the sounds from a small village. Unless of course they stuck out their microphones in the middle of the night, picking up the remains of the day and the birds of the night. Occasionally they work towards a crescendo, but even then its not easy to spot the city. Not that I care about this, I must say. They come up with music that has a lot to imagine about. Great field recordings, and great processing of the sounds. They do an excellent job, mixing all of this together, with great clarity and lots of detail. The sound bounces all over the dynamic spectrum. If you like say Francisco Lopez, then you're bound to like this too. Highly refined soundscapes. (FdW) Address:


From end of the telescope things have been quiet for Stefano Musso, also known as Alio Die for some time. He has released his music before on Projekt, Timebase, Heart Of Space and his own Hic Sunt Leones. Its here that he releases an album with Bakis Sirros, also known as Parallel Worlds. I never heard of him, but he is active in the field of modular synthesizers, mainly the brand called Doepfer. This is an album of ambient music closely bordering to the world of new age. There is a role here for the wordless singing of India Czajkowska, with sounds a bit too ethereal for me. This music is set out to please the listener, to transport him/her to a different place, yet you have to be open for that of course. Vaguely painted colors of sound, watery drum sounds, washy synth sounds and all such ingredients. Time to light a candle and incense. Minimalist, dark, but sometimes widely open. Mysterious music, rather than magical music. I am not the biggest lover of this kind of music, I must say, its perhaps just a bit too light weighted for me, or perhaps I should say that, because it hints a bit too much towards new age, its not my cup of tea. But surely I had a fine time listening to this, sitting back with a good book and coffee. The music is crafted with great care and style, lots of detail in the production, then perhaps not something I would like to hear all day (but then: which music would?) (FdW)


SOUND ON PROBATION 2010 (CD by Sound On Probation)
This CD is produced for the English magazine 'Sound Projector' and has various bits from old and forthcoming releases from the French label Sound On Probation. The ones that have been released were almost all reviewed in Vital Weekly, just use our search magazine on the website. The ones that aren't released yet, will come when they arrive, no doubt. The label is run by Laurent Perrier, and much, actually all, of the music is also from his and his various guises, Zonk't, Heal, Pylone, Cape Fear and under his own name. A fine place to start investigating, I'd say. Perrier's take on music, be it techno based, ambient or electro-acoustic, its all here, but then, if you have been reading these pages, you already know this. If not, order a copy of that fine magazine and find out. (FdW) Address:


The 14 tracks on this one are divided into 5 chapters, carrying the titles 'In-Vocation', 'Palo and Beyond', 'Merengue and Bebop', 'Poetry and Song' and 'Out-Vocation'. In different line ups Austerlitz is surrounded by sixteen musicians playing drums and percussion, acoustic and electric bass, piano and keyboards, etc. Austerlitz himself plays - beautifully - contrabass clarinet, bass clarinet, clarinet, tenor sax and voice. Besides being a reed player, he is composer, and ethnomusicologist. As a ethnomusicologist he wrote books on jazz and merengue. As a composer he is inspired again by both traditions. Jazz and afro-cuban and other latin music. So this is what we get served by Austerlitz on his 'Journey'. Included are influences from raga, Stravinsky and Debussy. A melting pot created by a true lover of 'worldmusic'. Not an easy-going and accessible treat, nor an academic meta-approach. (Dolf Mulder) Address:


BOYZONE - MENARCHE (LP by Hot Releases)
When I reviewed Maurizio Bianchi's 'Armaghedon', the LP version released by Hot Releases in Vital Weekly 703, I considered this might be a bootleg LP. The label later on told me it isn't, and that the next would be 'The Plain Truth', which has now arrived. I told the labelboss Ryan Martin its another classic (it's also in the review). It was one of the two LPs I originally bought by Bianchi in the eighties. The other was 'Weltanschauung', which I must have somewhere still. I sold the original copy of 'The Plain Truth', when the box set was released. I still prefer CDs over vinyl (there's no need to send me e-mails on this subject, thank you), but I know for some people its the other way round. No doubt for those who weren't around the first time to buy 'The Plain Truth' on vinyl, or too poor to buy an original on Ebay, there is now the second best choice, this LP version. Like said, its Maurizio Bianchi at his best. Cold electronics, depicting a post nuclear landscape. Death new age music, stone cold in its grave. But also quite musical, with a slow mutating melody per side. Hypnotic, dangerous and hallucinating. Lost nothing of its power in twenty-seven years.
The other new release is by Boyzone, now a duo of Ryan Martin and Jeff Rehnlund, but these recordings are from 20097-2008, when the band also had in the ranks Rachel and Roxann Spikula, Galen Wiliams plus contributions by Lauren Ford and Charlie St. Clair. We lack of course the dancers and exploding giant maggots on this LP release. It says nothing about how the music was created, but its surely a racket of low, home brew electronics, metal percussion, distortion pedals, and micro cassettes. Its all pretty noisy stuff, but I must say I quite like it, like with more of the work by Rehnlund. I leave most of today's noise stuff with Jliat, but every now its good to have some noise cleaning my ears. Boyzone is a great example to do the honors. (FdW) Address:


SEAHAWKS - HIGH TIDES/ASTRAL WINDS (7" plus CDR by Static Caravan)
Although Seahawks have a nice website ( it doesn't say much about the band itself. If indeed this is a band of course. Static Caravan just released their first record, a lovely fat picture disc 7" and some copies have a free CDR to go along. Now that's value for money, I guess. And its worth it, as what we get is lovely great music. Seahawks cherish the sample devices. They sample whatever comes close it seems, guitars, drums, keyboards and create some particular light, sunny music with it. Heavily influenced by seventies disco - 'Sun Trails' (on the bonus CDR) even has vocals and an opening that could be from KC & The Sunshine Band - but with a great touch of psychedelic music to it. A great combination of light and dark meet up here, and puts a big smile on my face. Seven great pieces on the CDR, two excellent cuts on 7": why not a proper LP, I wondered. This music certainly would have deserved it. (FdW) Address:

In a short time span, late 2007 and early 2008, Tom Hall released three CDRs of his solo work, involving computer, field recordings and instruments (see Vital Weekly 584, 598 and 617), followed by a collaborative release with Lawrence English. Then it was quiet, on the front of releases. In the past two years, Hall traveled the world (and the seven seas) to play over 250 concerts and he has been immersed with impressions and sounds. Again lots of field recordings and instruments such as drums, guitar, piano, organ, vibraphone, Chinese gongs and harmonium. He uses both computer and guitar effects to alter those sounds. I was sitting back in my reading chair, smoking my pipe and listening to the music. The spring sun is nicely warm (windows closed). I was thinking about Tom Hall and his music. I liked it, I did. Then I got up and played the release again, sitting behind my computer, again thinking of Tom Hall and his music. I still like it. But the honest thing to write is also that I kept thinking about the entire 12K catalogue and all their artists and how the music of Tom Hall would fit into that. It means that this honesty says that there is not much news under the sun here, and perhaps I should think that after a two year hiatus that is a pity. I do. I decide to sit in my armchair again, and play the music once one. (FdW) Address:


The Arp 2600 is a beast of an analogue synthesizer. Look for an image online, I'd say gaze at it. All along you can play this release by Jonathan McHugh who plays one, here on this recording with Mark Wastell, who plays a 32" paiste tam tam (look for an image of that one too I'd say). This is one of those things that seem to scream 'warning drones ahead', and we are not disappointed here. The forty-five minutes are filled with some really charming drones. Its totally unclear which role the tam tam plays, but the Arp sets forward a few nice sounds, deeply humming most of the times, but then sometimes chirping like a summer field filled with insects. Meditative music foremost. Hard to believe this comes from the world of improvised music: it sounds very much like composed music, executed with precision and care. Ending with a pretty nasty, piercing sound. Great stuff. (FdW)


SUNSLIDE - FIELD PIANO (3"CDR by Field Muzick)
Nigel Simpson is the man behind Sunslide, and as such he has been experimenting with acoustic and electric sounds. Most curious thing mentioned on his CV is a meeting with Phil Manzanera in a coffeeshop which resulted in playing on two of his solo records. He lived in London but has moved to Suffolk, where he can finally play the piano again. He set up the 88 keys outside and played these improvisations, keeping in mind the music of Chopin, Schumann, Bill Evans, Arve Henriksen and also Brian Eno's 'Discreet Music'. Long sustaining sounds, carefully playing and of course country-side sounds. Its where the label name truly lives I'd say. There is some sparse electronic processing, but what it does is not exactly clear - that kind of sparseness. In the third piece there is something of mild distortion going on and a lot on the seventh and final piece, which I also didn't like: it broke up the gentleness of the previous six. Quite hissy at times. I was reminded the old great Harold Budd track on 'From Brussels With Love', but then played outside. Apart from that seventh track a lovely moody little item. (FdW) Address:


Carlos Villena is an artist in music and graphic design who lives in Spain. He has realized gigs with other worldwide experimental artists, audio / video installations and runs the label Mantricum. Together with Miguel Garcia and Hector Rey he did some concerts in 2009. The recordings are released in a beautiful packed small dvd-case with a childish naïf drawing of Raul Dominguez. The first track is a live recording of Carlos Villena and is full of feed-back, created by a television, turntable, contact microphone and a walkman. The result is a slow noisy track, not really special and innovatory. Tracks two and three are live improvisations of Miguel A. Garcia and Hector Rey from Spain. Hector Rey is also an artist, who creates conceptual arts. Miguel A. Garcia is a soundartist who also works with the name Xedh. The two artists improvise well with their equipment, like pre recorded piano, drumcomputer, effect pedal and oscillators. In the two compositions there is more diversity in sound and volume. That makes these compositions dynamic and like modern classic music in an experimental way. (Jan-Kees Helms) Address:

VERTONEN - CRESTING (cassette by Bloodlust!)
Blake Edwards recently surprised us with three 3"CDRs and a split LP, now he arrives with the first of four, quarterly 3"CDRs as well as a cassette. The first 3" was intended to be a cassette release that never happened. The cover lists three tracks, but on the CDR there are only two, although its very well possible they are merged together. Its here that Vertonen works out his recent interests into deeply moving textured pieces of drone music. Although densely layered, there is some great subtleness gong in these pieces. Vertonen's music works on all dynamic levels and is put together in an excellent way. The two/three pieces mark his progression in this. The US counterpart to Eliane Radigue.
I expected the cassette to be somewhat more noise based, seeing it released on Bloodlust!, but its rather not. Vertonen's recent work deals, mostly, with drone like music, like on the 3"CDR, which is continued here, although altogether of a more heavy nature. Five tracks here, of which the first is a more quieter outing, but then 'Scotoma' is pretty loud and very dense. "Tackypnoea' is more quiet again. 'Mains Collapse' on the b-side is a more ambient industrial drone-scape, whereas 'Deep Water Blackout' sounds like airwave loops flying about. An excellent cassette release. Quite powerful, and highly varied. Not as delicate as the 3"CDR, but fine enough. (FdW)


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