RSS feed RSS Twitter Twitter Facebook Facebook 15 Questions 15 Questions

Vital Weekly 732

img  Tobias Fischer

The rebirth of Voice Of Eye expands slowly: here they have a collaborative disc with Nux Vomica. That's one of those names I recognize, but hardly have a clue what they sound like. Like Voice Of Eye they are duo. These two bands played together fifteen years ago, and now, in 2009 that is, they did it again. There is no mention of any instruments, expect that 'this music is part one of a continuous improvisation recorded on September 17, 2009'. This is not the kind of ambient music that we know Voice Of Eye for, but then perhaps its not that ambient anyway. It must be down, I assume, to the influence Nux Vomica had on these recordings. It starts out with a rhythm machine, ticking away nicely time, and on top there is an interesting pattern of sound created with the use of voices (Bonnie McNairm I assume of Voice Of Eye), synthesizers and layered guitars. This is the guideline for the six tracks on this CD: a moving, waving and floating sound, in which all four players add their share. Sometimes, like in the opening and closing piece, this is certainly ambient like, but in between there are also moments with a louder, perhaps noisy type of sound. Its due to the fact that this was recorded through improvisation, it maintains a certain roughness that is not usual in this scene, but even when its not entirely flawless (some rough edits it seems) it has a great vibrancy over it. It makes it overall a lot more adventurous than what is common and that's a great thing. An excellent disc! (FdW) Address:


ZEBRA - LIVE IN LEUGEN (CD by Korm Plastics)
If Dutch project Zebra was an animal at the zoo, I would buy a season ticket to return to it occasionally. First time I established contact with the sound art project Zebra was with "The Black & White Album" released on the prolific Japanese label Symbolic Interaction in 2008. Zebra's release on the Symbolic Interaction-label separated from the generally more ambient and emotional expression from the label's catalogue, thanks to a bizarre combination of abstract sound texture and subtle club-like style on "The Black & White Album". This new album from Zebra takes quite another approach to experimental sound. Behind the Zebra-project, you find two of Holland's finest and most innovative sound explorers, Roel Meelkop and Frans De Waard, who has a long collaboration experience with earlier projects together such as Kapotte Muziek and Goem. Second launch from the Zebra is, as the title suggests, derived from a live concert in a club called Leugen in Brussel in December 2009, but the live recording has been reworked for this release on the Korm Plastics label. As mentioned before, the approach on this album is quite different in comparison to aforementioned "The black and white album". This time the two collaborators puts serious concentration on rhythm textures and they prove a true talent in building beat structures into very catchy levels. Three lengthy pieces all with the exact running time of 12:47 minutes, slowly builds from subtle drones of strange complexity. As time goes by each track let's discreet rhythms fade in until the rhythms becomes the central part of the sound picture. But instead of dwelling in one rhythmic motion, the pieces keep changing so one rhythmic texture saturates the other in quite an impressive pace. As a listener you cannot help but getting sucked gradually more and more into this bizarre freakshow of a beat patterns. I was quite amazed by "The Black And White Album". "Live in Leugen" is a masterful continuation of Zebra and the album will keep circulating in my disc player for quite a while. A first class exercise in sonic abstraction. (Niels Mark) Address:


ENDUSER - 1/3 (CD by Ad Noiseam)
On my first trip to California back in the early 90's, I went to a huge Tower Records store where they played an excellent just-released debut-album titled "Split" by an Indie-band called Lush. The track to hit me first was the beautiful opener "Light from a dead star" from this particular album. Now two decades later one of my true admirers of the breakcore-scene Enduser has brought this excellent "Light from a dead star" back to life. And boy has it come back to life on this latest powertrip from the San Francisco-based breakcore-artist Lynn Standafer alias Enduser. Enduser has always impressed with his great balance between upfront breakbeats of the most aggressive kind and extremely atmospheric features. A sonic version of beauty and the beast. This time Lynn Standafer further improves the emotional side of his talent by integrating excellent vocals from great moments of the 90's. As mentioned before one of the tracks treated by the breakbeat-scientist is Lush's "Light from a dead star". Another one is the smash hit "Sleeping satellite" from Tasmin Archer. Both tracks have been beautifully transformed from the exclusive emotional pace of the originals into ultra-aggressive hordes of furious breakcore. And it works excellent. Title track "1/3" open sensuously with pianolines soon after confronted with tough rap and deep darkside basslines. In its nature this track is the one that mostly reminds of the earlier side of Enduser thanks to its ultra-brutal pace and less weight on emotional interventions. Though it still contains some atmospheric synthlines too. Also featured on this CD-Ep is a remix by Cardopusher of the "Interruption 4" track originally taken from "Left"-album released on Ohm Resistance in 2008. Melodious and intricate, pounding but powerful, "1/3" contains all the elements that have made Enduser such an important act of the contemporary breakbeat-scene. Anyone interested in breakbeat, drum'n'bass, dubstep, breakcore, techstep shouldn't miss this one and everyone else might be addicted too. Highly recommended! (Niels Mark)

EDWARD SOL - ISOLIER (businesscard CDR by Quasipop)
A disc of collaboration. Astro working the sounds of Cornucopia and vice versa. Perhaps. The cover is not entirely clear: the second track, by Astro might not do that. The latter is the project of Jorge Castro and Astro is Hiroshi Hasegawa, once a member of C.C.C.C.. I expected some noise music here, and in the case of Astro I am not disappointed (?): he takes the sound from the ground and feeds it through a long line of sound effects for a maximum damage of your ears and, if you are not careful, also your speakers. What can I add to that? Not much I guess: its the sort of noise I heard enough in my life, not to care about it too much. Its however the Cornucopia piece here that I really like. This might be a laptop deconstruction of Astro's sound, bringing to an entire new territory: that of microsound. Its fed through a bunch of plug ins in which we recognize the noise, but its all pushed back to a sizzling, crackling piece of deep bass and suppressed high end. An intense piece of music, that's for sure, and not as mellow as some of micro-peers, but altogether an absolutely fine piece of music. Worth alone to get this release for.
Labelboss Edward Sol has another small release, very small but nicely packed (why there is a paint on the disc itself, I don't know) as a small book. The piece lasts only five minutes of noisy electronics, set against some wacky rhythm, with some strange 'vocals' (??). Its a nice piece and probably at five minutes just long enough to be interesting. (FdW) Address:


Philadelphia-based producer Starkey belongs to some of the finest grime, dubstep from the U.S.-side of the ocean. The artist has been picked for Mary Ann Hobb's groundbreaking dubstep-show on BBC's Radio 1 and generally praised as an interesting act from the dubstep-scene. Paul Geissinger grounded the Starkey-project in 2005 and launched his first full-length album "Ephemeral exhibits" on Planet Mu in 2008. Now two years later, Starkey continues the line of bass-dominated dubstep with the album "Ear drums and black holes". Once again Starkey proves his ability of combining melodic grime with more upfront bass-like dubstep, mostly instrumental but once in a while added some cool rappings by UK grime MC P-Money and also vocals from Anneka and Cerebral Vortex. Most tracks stays in the downtempo rhythm textures but once in a while the music goes more upbeat on a track like "Fourth dimension". Another well-done dubstep/grime-album from Starkey. (Niels Mark)


MAIN CONTROL BOARD (compilation CD by Lagunamuch Records)
I hadn't heard about this particular Russian label, but the last years¥reception of music from the country, have convinced me that many interesting things happen on the Russian experimental electronic music scene. To begin with the label, Laguna Much was formed back in 2004 with the aim of promoting experimental electronics of a wider scale rather than focusing on one certain style. And the mission certainly has been accomplished with this particular compilation. The album is a continuation of the sampler "Deep sea shipping" from the label released in 2004. Where "Deep sea shipping" took its starting point in the sea as subject "Main control board" conceptually focus on deep space. The expressions of the tracks nicely lives up to it, with atmospheres moving from feelings of isolationism to nocturnal darkness. The sounds often operates in spacey spheres and strange-fullness. Stylistically we move from upbeat techno with Autopilots and their track "Machine" to otherworldly drones on Nighttech and the ambient track "Grey strata of subways". Even club-like sounds occurs with Speyer's "Connecting to you" but the feeling of deep space always hides in-between the lines of every track. A very interesting compilation that reminds me of Hymen's fabulous compilation "Teknoir" and an album that definitely makes me want to check the aforementioned "Deep sea shipping"-compilation. Highly recommended! (Niels Mark) Address:


KATSA.THEO - PORTO (CD by Ressonus Records)
katsa.theo is an audio-visual project of audio artist Jiri Tilgner from the Czech Republic. He made an interesting album in cooperation with singer Milli Janatkova. Her beautiful warm voice and Portuguese lyrics are combined with his dreamy, abstract and electronic music. The concept is not new, but this cross-over fits really well. The music is a combination of erotic/intimate melodies, raw electronic sounds, industrial beats and dubstep. The album has a good structure, The album starts with a composition which fits well in a movie of David Lynch. Dark electronic sound and a jazzy beat create an uncomfortable sphere. The atmospheres of the tracks have their own identity and reinforce each other. The album is released by the DIY label Ressonus Records  and is run by David Ramboesek, who is also the musician of Selectone. The design of the album is well done, computer-based forms are combined with a aquarel-alike or paint-alike forms. The six-track EP is completed by two re-mixes of the track "Sohno" by Ohm Plain and Selectone. Ohm Plain made an abstract dark collage, which has been refreshed by voice and develops to a-rhythmic part. Selectone created more an ambient track in particular with the voice of Milli Janatkova. A great release and a nice addition in the cold and raw electronic world which combines warm human voices. (Jan-Kees Helms)


Maybe I once crossed the Ponte 25 de Abril in Lissabon. It would have been nice if the cover showed us this bridge (I know, the internet will have an image). One Margit Rieben, of whom I never heard composed a piece for the M+M Choir, thirty-six voices strong. Each of them were recorded individually - under the bridge?, on the bridge? I don't know - and then these voices were mixed together. Or perhaps its a studio recording and the result was used in an art installation? How nice it would be to get just that little bit of extra information. The music is all about wordless singing and all three pieces seem to be starting out with the voices being recognizable. But then slowly they are torn apart and end up to sound like massive drone event. Perhaps indeed it resembles the cars passing over a bridge. A gentle hum from below the surface of the earth. If there is to say some point of critique: the tracks did sound a bit too similar for my taste. Maybe its three versions of the same piece? In German it says on the backcover: 1 idea, 1 choir, 1 sound and that sums it up. Why not then one tracks on some twenty minutes, instead of three around fifteen minutes? The whole point would have been also made, I guess. But if you want to really immerse yourself in this, then I guess the entire disc is needed. A conceptually strong CD that also works out well. (FdW) Address:

In the outstanding re-issue series of Deep Freeze Mice-albums, this is the final one. Recorded, in true DIY fashion, in 1987 in guitarist/vocalist/dictator Alan Jenkins' flat on a four-track cassette recorder and self-released/self-distributed (like all their albums), the Tender Yellow Ponies formed the Mice's swansong. Not that they realized it at the time, as the band, existing in their own universe and devoid of any ambition, never officially broke up. They simply evaporated into thin air. Tender Yellow Ponies features some great songs like Ariadne Metal Cream Pie and Conversation Gap Panic, featuring strange chord sequences and time changes, long and strange experimental tracks, semi-literary lyrics about goats and a lot of complex guitar solos. The Mice do attempt covers of Love You More (Pete Shelley) and Janis (Country Joe McDonald), but their own material, a blend of UK naive psychedelica, pop, experiment and, well, something is so much more worthwhile. The generous booklet features the transcription of a long, often hilarious, talk between Jenkins and bass player Mick Bunnage about the band's history. As with previous re-releases, this CD adds more than 35 minutes of bonus material. The Mice could have been the biggest thing on earth since sliced bread. Thanks heavens they weren't. (Freek Kinkelaar) Address:


NADJA & TROUM - DOMINIUM VISURGIS (CD by Transgredient Records)
NADJA - RUINS OF MORNING (10" by Substantia Innominata/Drone Records)
To some these two names represent the absolute top of the drone music, and who am I to disagree? Troum, the follow-up to Maeror Tri and Nadja, the duo of Leah Buckareff and Aidan Baker, have both presented themselves through a line of releases, displaying the finer sense of drone music, through the use of guitars, accordeon, voice, rhythm machine effects and such like. In April 2008 they did a spontaneous improvisation in the Troum studio, which now is released on CD. This is indeed the top of their scene: guitars are set to play drones, through the use of e-bows, through lots of sound effects, loop stations and all such like. They do the usual slow built up towards a mighty crescendo, fly through air, and then land safely through a long decrescendo. Headspace music. Perhaps not the kind of music for a sunny day like it is today, but more for grey, rainy days. They are mood musicians and one has to be open to these particular dark moods, but if you open up then they are more than willing to transport you through these dark woods. An excellent work, hardly to believe one of some afternoon improvisation.
On Troum's 10" label Substantia Innominata there is also just out a 10" by Nadja. In this series things evolve around 'Unknown', 'Unnameable' and 'Not-Knowable'. Nadja plays one piece, cut in two. Here they use more guitar like sounds, as Aidan Baker is the guitarist  and vocals, while Leaf Buckareff plays the bass and Nadja find themselves in the shady zone where drone meets metal. The a-side is a mellow piece, if that is an appropriate word for the world of Nadja, but the b-side opens with a wall of sound type of drumming and then another wall of guitars, playing some of the darkest, slow metal music. Hardly drone like, which seems to an entirely different thing, but I must say there is something to say for the fact that this is drone like: the whole piece, both sides, works wonderfully well as a piece of dark ambience, the apocalyptic version of drone music. Not for the weak of hearth and mind! (FdW)


XELA - THE DIVINE (LP by Dekorder)
IIBIIS ROOGE (LP by Dekorder)
Somebody asked me a difficult question, while looking at my record collection. "Which of the Raymond Dijkstra records is a must hear? His opus magnum?" I told my friend I didn't know, but that somehow I don't think Dijkstra would think along such lines, the high-light of his career. But true to the fact, if you are looking for an artist that switches his musical patterns then, Raymond Dijkstra is not your man. His new record, 'L'opus L'H', is no different than his old records. He plays tuba, organ, harmonium, glass objects, and all of that in a highly personal manner. Improvised, with the most minimal changes, no electronic processing of whatever kind. Just exactly as those… how many were there… ten at least… records before. But there is one difference: this is a record for every wallet. His older records are usually highly limited and therefore come with a price tag that is sometimes a big high. 'L'opus L'H' is however a record that comes in a bigger edition and no doubt reaches more people and why not? This is as a good as a place to get into the man's work. Not his opus magnum, but maintaining his quality.
Back in Vital Weekly 666 we had the LP 'The Illumination', the first of a trilogy of records produced by John Twells, who works as Xela. 'The Divine'… 'The Illumination"… hang on, there is something religious about this release? It opens with the sound of church bells, but then quickly unfolds into what is the rest of side A: a mysterious mass (double meaning I guess) of many layers of sound, maybe from guitars, effects and field recordings, from what seems to be a fair or something like that. The result however is a bit muddy. The b-side also has one track, 'Of The Light And Of The Stars', and is a much more drone like affair. Again immensely layered, but this time with sounds that seem to fit together much more. An angelic choir of voices, glitch like sounds pushed away to the back. Certainly a piece which you can play in a church - or perhaps the kind of music that was derived from sounds recorded in church. Quite a harmonious piece of drone music. An excellent side, whereas the other side is not bad either, but also not as good.
You may have never heard of Iibiis Rooge, but its a new duo of High Wolf (known (?) for his releases on Not Not Fun Records and Winged Sun) and the ever-changing talent of Neil Campbell, last best known as Vibracathedral Orchestra and Astral Social Club. They formed Iibiis Rooge not as a 'project' but as a band. I had no real expectations for this I must say. Knowing just Campbell it could be anything and therefore its always a delight to hear his music. In this case the music is made through very psychedelic jamming together. Just like Xela they use a lot of layers of sound in their work of an electronic nature. They seem to bang around on a bunch of loops and feed these through a lot of sound effects, giving the material a trancelike feel to it. It goes on and on, on end. Small melodies leak through this enormous mass of sound, which is filled from top to bottom. Very hypnotic. It reminded me of some of the work I heard from Black Dice. Excellent stuff.
From Philadelphia hails King Kong Ding Dong,
using samples, de-tuned guitars and percussion. Although this record shares a similarity with the other three, being a minimalist affair, with hypnotic, trance-like music, this is however also the least electronic, experimental one. King Kong Ding Dong play rock music. There is a bunch of references mentioned on the press release (Pavement, Royal Trux, bands on Not Not Fun and Woodsist - but I'm all too unfamiliar with any of those). The band bangs on with some psychedelic lo-fi krautrock like sound, but for me its lacks a bit of production. Too much like recorded in garage, and if garage-like rock music was my thing, I would have probably understood those references. I don't think its a bad record anyway, but perhaps also not really my cup of soup. But to complete this quartet, it makes quite a lot of sense. Four nice to great records. (FdW) Address:


Back in Vital Weekly 720 I reviewed the first volume of 'Early Works' by Autistici and here is already the second volume. It covers the period of 2001-2005, which made me think this project has been around for a longer period of time than I thought. Its the project of David Newman, also responsible for the Audiobulb label, who culls his sound material from everyday life: Asian dawn chorus, record player mechanics and animal calls. I forgot to mention when that previous set of recordings was made, but this old material forecasts some of the later interests of Newman. Already into the world of microsound, with lots of careful processing of sound. This type of playing later resulted in 'Volume Objects', his 12K debut CD (see Vital Weekly 607). Maybe I think the playing here is a bit more raw and unrefined, but it adds to the charm of the music. Its not that super refined microsound of the latter work, but nice try-outs of material and exploring the various possibilities to transform sounds into music. Overall a much nicer and more coherent release than the first volume of 'Early Works'. (FdW) Address:


MMW - POST-OUT (CDR by Hikikomori)
The letters MMW stands for Miller, Miller and Weston. Of the two MIllers, Roger C. is perhaps best known as the man behind Mission Of Burma (also one of those bands I never really heard) and here he plays bass guitar along with preparations and electronics. His brother Benjamin was a member the art band GKW and later of Dirty Old Man River. He plays modified guitar and preparations and electronics. Ten years ago he already played with Matt Weston (percussion and electronics) and in October 2008 they decided to play again, but then with Roger. The recording here was made in 2008 at The Outpost in Boston. This is however not some rock record, but a record of heavy improvisation music. I mean this both as heavy in terms of the sound output, but also overall as the way the music is played by this trio. They are quite loud at times, with electronics flying about, but they also know how to pull back and give the piece air and a certain lightness to it, all of this in a piece that lasts thirty minutes. A heavy but beautiful piece of work. (FdW)


Behind the quite strange name - A Vibrant Struggle - you find a joint venture between three of Europe's contemporary sound artists: The two Norwegian sound artists Sindre Bjerga and Jan M. Iversen (also collaborating as Bjerga/Iversen) and Dutch sound artist Steffan de Turck. A Vibrant Struggle originally was established in the fall of 2007 where the trio spent a weekend in a deserted wooden cabin somewhere the Norwegian mountains. The result was heard on the CDR-album "Whispering drones". An album that was first of all based on a pile of tapes of buzzing drones, crackling microsounds and clanging electro-acoustics, wood thumping and the occasional guitar picking. Now a couple of years later the three collaborators has taken the trip to the mountains and the result can be hear on this new CDR "Between the woods and frozen lake" released on Dutch label Moving Furniture. The album consists of one lengthy piece running 30+ minutes through soundscapes of banging objects, electronic drones and concrete sounds. The expression is abstract and a quite alluring piece, beautifully continuing the line of previous launch from the woods. Hope the trio will make the trip to the mountains again some other time. Very interesting result indeed! (Niels Mark)


PLURALS - SIX EYES (CDR by Striate Cortex)
After some moment of quietness a flurry of releases. Striate Cortex returns with four albums (and are forgiven for not reading our submission policy). Plurals have been reviewed before, with a release on Dead Sea Liner (see Vital Weekly 679) and here they offer two new tracks, this time totaling thirty-eight minutes. More lo-fi drone rock music, and still its not clear wether they use guitars and organs or perhaps exclusively guitars, but with lots of stomp boxes. There is also the occasional vocals/voice material. A saxophone seems also present here. Still their noise rock approach made me think of Ramleh, perhaps more later version, but still toned down a bit. And what also remains: I quite like this, but it hardly seemed a surprise. Some nice New Zealand like drone rock improvisation, and that's something I still like. Quite good at copying that!
Also heard once before is Small Things On Sunday, back in Vital Weekly 717. This duo, Henrik Bagner and Claus Poulsen, hail from Denmark. I am still not sure if they still use just 'electronic treatments of vinyl records in any tempo' - might it be silly to suggest it does, since the title is 'More'? It doesn't sound like something has really changed for them, maybe that would be too early, come to think of it. Things are still very dark, very ambient and with much drones. Its actually as good as their previous '4AM' release, when, as said, also very much along similar to that one. Maybe that's a bit of a disappointment then, but the six pieces are quite nice. Well worked out, covering the grey and black ends of the sound spectrum.
The next one is a split release by Bjerga & Iversen, main stays of the Striate Cortex imperium with Throuroof (or ThrouRoof as it is spelled on the cover). They (he? she?) open up here with a twenty minute piece of bird calls and drones. The latter are a bit distorted which form an interesting contrast with the bird sounds of spring time (and with the birds outside I guess). Its hard to say wether I think this is really good. The semi-distortion ruins it a bit for me. Bjerga/Iversen also have twenty minutes at their disposal. They too evolve their business around field recordings from an airport lounge (in The Netherlands judging by some of the announcements, maybe on their November visit to Extrapool?), feeding it through a delay pedal. I imagine them waiting in an airport and setting up their mobile equipment and play a live piece on the spot. Maybe that's my romantic side at looking at these matters? It sounds like that, and best is not to disturb those assumptions. Its a great, silent piece of electronics and field recordings. Perhaps the sort of thing ThrouRoof had in mind, but now working wonderfully well.
The only new name here is On The Wrong Planet, but its the solo project of Henrik Bagner of Small Things On Sunday. Eight pieces in just under one hour. Since there is no information we have to do some guessing here. I think there is fair amount of field recordings going on here, sound processing (laptops are assumed) and as for instruments… guitars maybe, some sound effects. The outcome is along the lines of experimental side of ambient and drone music. I think some of these tracks are a bit long for what they are. No doubt they are set out to create 'hypnosis' or 'trance', but there is not always the right amount of variation in these pieces. The shorter are the best ones in this lot, with the haunting 'You Can't Break Me' as the outstanding piece and the longest, 'Revisit', being the weakest link. Overall I thought this wasn't bad, but it needed some more shaping. Edit down the best bits a bit more and the cosmic nightmare will fully take shape. No paint was spared on creating covers for these. (FdW) Address:

The complete "Vital Weekly" is available at: Vital Weekly

Related articles

Vital Weekly 714
Frans de Waard presents the ...
Vital Weekly 711 + 712
Frans de Waard presents the ...
Metal Visions International 6
A planet forged of steel: ...
Vital Weekly 669
Frans de Waard presents the ...
Vital Weekly 663
Frans de Waard presents the ...
Vital Weekly 654
Frans de Waard presents the ...

Partner sites