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Vital Weekly 731

img  Tobias Fischer

SKIF++ - NEXT (CD by Creative Sources Recordings)
A laptop trio, this Skif++, consisting of Robert Van Heumen on a laptop playing LiSa, Jeff Carey (whom you may know as 87 Central, who plays with Super Collidor on his laptop)) and Bas van Koolwijk who plays with Jitter and is responsible for the groups' visual side. They already had a CD release on Fridgesound (see Vital Weekly 627) and now there is a new one, simply called 'Next'. If the word laptop trio scares you, thinking of microsound, careful crackles and minor beeps, then this is something you should investigate as its nothing like that at all. The first piece, cut into five separate pieces, explodes loudly in your face. A bumping collision of collidors and LiSa, with heavy bass end and noisy top end. Think Merzbow running on a random generator. A blast of laptop burning. Great, heavy weight noise, and words like carefull simply don't apply here. That happens in '[Thinner]', in which Skif++ expand their horizon and show us that they also know how to play a piece that is quiet as well as unsettling. Maybe a bit long as a whole this piece (lasting well over twenty minutes this one), but then such is the nature of improvised music. Using computers means also that there are repeating blocks of sound, so that the average listener - say the type who is not used to improvised music - has some form to hold on to. The final two pieces are excursions again into distinctly louder music again. This is not an easy work to digest, but certainly with some great untamed power. Sadly no visuals here. (FdW) Address:

PARKS - [HIDDEN] (CD by Infraction Records)
CONCERT SILENCE - 9.22.07 (CD by Infraction Records)
No doubt I said this before, but for me Infraction Records is the true successor to Silent Records as the leading label for ambient music in the USA. Its not too strict with its definition of ambient - as these three new releases will proof - and the packaging is excellent (actually much better than the old Silent releases). The first release is by someone who also runs his own label, Gears Of Sand (say Infraction's little brother of ambient music on CDR), with a release that deals with 'water', oceanic music. The music is a fine combination of long, sustaining sounds, experimental percussive sounds and some more angular sound debris, like deep sea undercurrents. The press text reads about Titanic and ongoing playing orchestra's on that ship while sinking and perhaps the synthesizers here the role of the 'sea' and the percussive sounds all those objects sinking towards the surface of the sea. Maybe that's all a bit too obvious? Then that is too bad. Fleury-Steiner delivers a mighty fine soundtrack to such as a scheme, and its nothing like that other work with the same subject. His lush, refined patterns are top of the line ambient music, chopped into fine slices. Not too much, not too small.
One Parks comes from a different end into the world of ambient music. I have no idea who he is, but his music seems to be more from the end of popmusic. Rhythms play an important role in his music, but they are not overtly complex. Just a few simple glitches, looped around. He adds the washes of synthesizers, like all good ambient composers but his main addition comes from the occasional use of 'vocals'. They mumble , or perhaps whisper (depends on you wish yo perceive such matters) and feed through a vocoder plug in. It adds a nice, somewhat odd end to the music, which becomes effectively some kind of dream pop. At times long dream pop, such as in the seemingly never ending 'Light On Mountain'. Great mood music for a rainy day. Lots of space, created through the use of reverb (sadly in some cases), but overall done in a great way. Quite a nice CD throughout.
Matthew Cooper, also known as Elevation, teams up with Charles Buckingham. Both are from Portland and they work with live sound manipulation, as sketched out in a diagram on the CD. The main instrument seems to be the piano here. The piano and its treatments have a long tradition in the world of ambient music, starting with Satie's 'Furniture Music', Harold Budd's work with Brian Eno and then  since a couple of years all the people following in that tradition. No doubt the work as heard here was played on September 9th 2007 in one go. However the outcome here with Concert Silence is not as classical ambient as that by say Eno/Budd or Fennesz/Sakamoto, to mention two that more people will recognize. Concert Silence play some highly interesting pieces of music, in which sounds roll about, occasionally even in a noisy fashion, but also dream like and stretched out, as would be expected with things like this. Quite a daring release that stretches beyond the boundaries of ambient music, and in that respect the best out of three. The other two are great, but within what ambient music is. Concert Silence step out of the strict scene of ambient music and offer perhaps something bigger, something where ambient, improvisation and even a bit of noise find a place. Excellent. (FdW) Address:


PAPER AND PLASTIC (2CD compilation by Suitcase Recordings)
The story of Paper and Plastic is just as interesting as the release itself. Suitcase started in 1982 with releasing music of a4 and from 1988 through 2000 they organized a numerous live events. After 12 years of silence Suitcase restarts as a CD label. Paper and  Plastic is a two disc audio project that began in 1991 featuring rare and unreleased material by some of the most prolific and innovative sound/visual artists from the international experimental tape culture era of the eighties and nineties; Synthetische Mischgewebe, Yeast Culture, z.B.u.a., Achim Wollscheid, Small Cruel Party, Ios Smolders, Agog, Chop Shop, Runzelstirn & Gurgelstock, Wash Your Brains, APPI, Kapotte Muziek, Emil Beaulieau, Inzekt, Native X, tac, Sudden Infant, Merzbow and All Fours. A4 (All Fours) selected of all the audio and visual material and created the packaging design in collaboration with Incubator and Petri Supply. Abo of Yeast Culture silkscreened each individual. The original art includes 2 CDs inside a clear silkscreened dvd case, handmade inserts, a folio of original color silkscreened postcards and a 16 page booklet. The booklet looks like a catalogue of an exhibition/art event with a properly lay-out. The artworks are well created by a dada-action group, but the relation between the artwork and the booklet is far. Both kind of artworks are well done a more artistic design of the booklet makes the release more interesting. Back to the music…. In 1998 Suitcase organized an event at the Redlight Cafe in Atalanta and only 15 copies were available for sale during that evening. Unfortunately the copies were mastered at the wrong speed, so now it is time for a reset. The contributions at Plastic are interrupted by short noise cuts of about 6 seconds and Plastic gives a great summary of noise-musicians during that period. The building of the CD is well considered and tracks blend together. Only the track of Native X is a stranger between the others. The track is played on distorted guitars and recorded with low-profile equipment. Paper has more diversity and the "Rustle" of A4 is one of the most intimate tracks I have ever heard. The breaking and cracking of material, a dark soundlayer, the sound of crickets and the breathing through the nose of the musician are beautiful ingredients of this piece of music. The compilation is really a gain for the collectors and lovers of music during that period. (Jan-Kees Helms) Address:

Back in Vital Weekly 656 we were re-introduced to Violence And The Sacred performing as Viosac, the new name of what was once known as just Violence And The Sacred. Still I have no idea why they hold on to the addition 'Performing As Viosac', and not just simply return to the old name. 'Rusty Pile' wasn't a convincing come-back album I thought. Perhaps a bit too much of an unedited jam-session. The CD after that 'You Are PLanning To Enjoy The Apocalypse' wasn't received here. The new work 'Dawing Luminosity' is however a great work. Viosac move into a more ambient territory here, which not necessarily adds much to the world of ambient and drones, but the quality is great. Its one piece in three parts and I'm told its all analogue synthesizers and analogue processing. Very slow moves around here, this an almost perfect piece of surround sound, ambient in the very most true sense of the word. An excellent disc of some heavenly music. As said, it doesn't add much, if anything at all, to what we already know about this kind of music, but its very rare that it unfolds into such a beauty. (FdW) Address:

DJ DELAY - BRASS, WIRES AND BASS (CD by Beaming Productions)
We live in rather confusing times, at least if you have reached my age. Being somewhat conservative, I would think that the physical object is the real thing, but here we have a reverse tactic. A real pro-pressed CD to promote a digital release. DJ Delay is one Brian May (not the guitarist who watches the stars) who mixes Balkan Beats together. Balkan Beats you may ask. Think lots of brass instruments and a dance beat. Gypses with a house. Think that well-known tune from the Borat movie (actually I hate that movie, but love that tune). DJ Delay mixes these together. We live in rather confusing times, I'd said it before. My exactly this should be 'released' simply eludes me, wether this is on Itunes or on a physical CD. Unless of course the intention is to get more work for DJ Delay. In that case, I, hardly a judge of DJ qualities, would say, go ahead and hire this guy. In his suitcase he has some nice Balkan tunes packed up and mixes them nicely. It gave me a pleasant hour. Wish it was Saturday night again, and could go to a club again. (FdW)


In 1991 I started the Interpretation Serial released by Lor Teeps. The meaning of this series was that musicians make composition based on a theme like the characters E and O or based on a soundtrack. I was not the only one who was interested in this subject. Recycling music is one of the interests of Frans de Waard, member of Kapotte Muziek. In 1990 he started the Assemblage project.. The complete project with recordings of Kapotte Muziek is re-released by  Lunhare. The Assemblage project started as a 7‰ as a compilation with SBOTHI, Yeast Culture, Ios Smolders and Kapotte Muziek. The meaning was that anyone can use the music and images for new material. Kapotte Muziek produced in this manner three cassettes. The C46 cassette 'Ages Be Alms' is based on the first 7". The 26 short compositions show us the great variety how to deal with this basic music and to  a enormous amount of interpretations. The compositions are very  basic, not many layers and development in the composition, just pure sound in short tracks of about 1.30 minutes. A pleasant moment for the ears! The C30 tape 'As Smega Bel‚ is based on the second 7", a split by Amk 1990 and Gum. The third tape "Clysisert‚ was released by Old Europa Cafe and is based on both 7" in 1993. During that period I was less active in the cassette-subculture and I remember Kapotte Muziek as a harsh noisy project and with the old Kapotte Muziek in my mind I was really surprised by this music. Especially the long tracks reminds me to music like Beequeen during that period, with atmospheric sounds, trancy loops and deep long soundwaves. 17 Years later Freiband, another project of Frans de Waard, remixed all the material. A cracky noisy distorted soundlayer is the base of this composition and deep in the background sounds where added and develop to high pitched noise and at the end faded away in fragments. Which composer will recycle this? (Jan-Kees Helms)


THE SILVERMAN - ELEMENTAL (CDR by The Terminal Kaleidoscope)
Another release from the archives of The Legendary Pink Dots, harking back to 1987. A cross road year for the Dots. They already released a bunch of cassettes an vinyl and decided to go professional. They moved to Amsterdam and then later to Nijmegen. The recordings on 'Any Day Now Secrets' were the last they made in on UK soil. It was, I must admit, a time I didn't hear much Pink Dots. I got stuck with cassette releases and my financial limitations prevented me to get all the vinyl. I got 'Any Day Now' later on CD, but its not a record that I know that well as say 'The Lovers' or, later 'The Maria Dimension'. I dug it out again to play, along with these unearthed pieces from the sessions. The music is largely instrumental here and show the great craftmanship of the Pink Dots. These nine pieces have a great drive to them. Psychedelic of course and electronic for sure, but its also light of tone, with a bumping piano in 'Adrenalin', great arpeggio's in the opening piece, or that great rhythmic and melancholia in 'Shiver Me Timbres', or just melancholic in 'Engeltje' (which Dutch title forecasts their future in the Netherlands?). Some pieces are mere ideas but this is another fine look in the working methods of a great band. Hopefully with more to come!
More recent are the two releases from the two main protagonists of The Legendary Pink Dots. Edward Ka-spel works with the missus here, Alena Boykova on a variety of pieces recorded over the last two years in Finland (where Boykova was living then) and The Netherlands (home of Ka-spel still). If you are aware of Ka-spel's solo releases recently ('Trapped In Amber', 'Devascapes' for instance) you know that his solo work is quite far removed from the psychedelic popmusic of the Pink Dots. More experimental, mostly ambient, but at times also full of tension and anger (especially 'Devascapes'). On 'Red Sky At Night' we find three long pieces, one quite short and one that is somewhere in between. Again the music here is more experimental but not as noisy as on that cassette release. Moody, build around field recordings of rain, analogue synthesizers, small percussion and some taped church organ. 'Spook Mist' is a very minimal track, very spooky as the title implies and simply an excellent piece of music. 'Burning Church 2', before that, seems a bit long and out of focus here and there. 'The Nursery' uses a few childrens toys and is nice counterpoint in this release. 'Karis In The Fall' is a mood music piece again and 'Open' the only one to use vocals. Great release, highly varied and not just for die-hard fans only.
The Silverman on the other hand has one long piece of music. It starts out with some sparsely orchestrated layers of synthesizer sounds, but then over the course of the piece, more and more elements come in. Either from more synthesizers, but more likely that of obscured field recordings and what seems to be analogue tape manipulations. 'Elemental' might not be a title that appeals to me (too Mike Oldfield I guess), but this work is a great one. Hypnotic, slow in development and minimal. There are three parts to be distinguished here, of which the second is the 'loudest' and the third is a real spooky closing piece. It could have cut into three different tracks, I think, perhaps for the sake of convenience. Its a beautiful piece of gorgeous drone music and like with Ka-spel's solo work all miles apart from the work carried out with The Legendary Pink Dots. (FdW) Address:


Two unnamed musicians are behind Het Fukking Licht and represent the interest of Narrominded into improvised music. The two musicians don't know what the other will bring to a recording session. Its also not mentioned on the cover of this highly limited (29 copies!) CDR and unlimited download release. To me it sounds a like a whole bunch of acoustic objects, contact microphones and sound effects. The three tracks go as one flow here. The start playing their objects and then slowly start adding various sound effects to the sound material. Sometimes perhaps a bit too much reverb is used, but throughout its alright. I am reminded at times of the old zoviet*france sound, with its (pseudo) ritualist meandering. Things bubble below the surface with some great underpinning tension. This is not the average improvisation music, mainly since its hard to recognize any of the instruments, but more like an interesting cross-over between improvisation, electronics and drone like music. Maybe here and there a bit too long, but throughout an excellent release. Should have been a bigger edition, me thinks. (FdW) Address:

THOMAS BEY WILLIAM BAILEY - U.U.U.U. (cassette by Belsonic Strategic)
The 'globalitarian' war is a term invented by Paul Virilio and this cassette is the first 'in a series of threnodies built' from sounds of that war. Bailey gets his inspiration from the likes of Ake Hodell, Iannis Xenakis and 'numerous accounts of post-traumatic stress from anonymous combatants'. It all sounds more heavy than it is, I guess. Bailey constructs an fine piece of classic electronic music, in the best sixties electronic studios tradition, along with some fine radiophonic tape montage of screams and gun shots, especially in the beginning and the end of the piece (its one piece only, repeated on the second side). A heavy montage of sound that works wonderfully well, even if you would choose to neglect the story given by Bailey. Noisy at times, but this is the kind of noise, intelligently put together, that I like. Bailey continues to deliver fine works in this field of music. (FdW)


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