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Vital Weekly 734

img  Tobias Fischer

ACCORDION (CD by Records Of Existence)
Shy perhaps? Accordion's self-titled debut release is announced as a EP, but its certainly a full length with nine tracks lasting some thirty-plus minutes. Accordion is Curt Seiss from Washington DC, who plays all the instruments himself. These include guitars, drums, marimba, accordion and home made instruments, along with vocals. All recorded by himself in his small home studio. Its great music, although hardly something we get a lot in Vital Weekly. Its dreamy, atmospheric popmusic. Sweet tinkling guitars, drums ticking away time, vocals are wordless singing/humming, the synthesizers finely woven below the surface. A bit post rock like, but shorter in approach, and also much sweeter in the way its worked out. Music that can serve as a soundtrack to a movie about vast landscapes, me thinks. Since I had not much else to play on a quiet day, I decided to keep this in rotation for a while. I played it front to back about four times before deciding I had enough. That probably says it all. Still, thinking this is hardly musical ground Vital Weekly covers, its a great CD of laidback sweet dreampop. Next time with real vocals and go out the full pop way. (FdW) Address:


A new step in the Space Program of Rafael Toral. This program was launched in 2004, "questioning how to perform music in a post-free jazz mind-set, using strange sounds from electronic instruments." In small line ups, ten musicians - one of them being Evan Parker - contribute by playing a diversity of acoustic instruments. Toral plays modified MS-2 portable amplifier feedback, modified MT-10 portable amplifier and delayed feedback resonance empty circuit and electrode oscillator with modular filters. The electronic sounds are very close in a way to the ones of acoustic origin. They make one fluid continuum. In most pieces acoustic sounds dominate. Track "II.VII" is an exception to this rule, this one seems of pure electronic origin. In eight very different pieces Toral and his collaborators explore their research on the borders of free jazz and ambient-like music. Resulting in a music that is very original and not to be reduced to free jazz, or any other known idiom. Because of the use of many instruments, a first thing that can be said is that it s is a very multicolored whole. The music is more about creating space then a lapse of time. It feels like being at strange, exotic places instead of being engaged in a dynamic process. For this reason the music lacks drama, pulse, groove, extraverted power. Which does not mean however that nothing is happening here. On the contrary. The pieces have clear musical structures full of subtleties. Toral shows a very personal style and power, and paints beautiful and unusual panoramas. (Dolf Mulder)


SETH NEHIL - FURL (CD by Sonoris)
'Furl' is already the follow-up to last years 'Flock & Tumble' (see Vital Weekly 684) and continues his shift away from the field of drone music. Like it says on the press release 'these compositions whip, crash, swoop, glide and burble'. The music of Seth Nehil has moved into the field of acousmatica. More than on the previous it seems to me that Nehil is working with real instruments (played by himself or others), which are transformed, thanks to the computer no doubt, but he cleverly stays away from the regular type processing that the schooled composers use. Instead he creates quite vibrant pieces of music that bounces off into various directions and moods. Even a quiet piece like 'Hiss' has this vibrancy, with slow changes in sound and volume. As said its not easy to recognize the instruments he uses (piano? guitar? percussion?), but he works with them in a great way. He's now entirely away from the field recordings and drones and works in a modern classical approach. A piece like 'Swarm' sounds a stage piece with various voices from behind and slaps and bangs on the piano and percussion, with the addition of electronics making glissandi. Yet he has sprinkled the thing with his own magic - the sort of obscuring the sounds and that gives his music something of its own. Its hard to say what that is exactly, but it doesn't sound like anything else, which is the best compliment a composer can get, I guess. Its by far the best Nehil CD I heard and a fine career move.
Yannick Dauby is not very well-known I guess, but by now he has a nice body of work which deal with field recordings. He is originally from the Mediterranean Alps but lives these days in Taiwan. 'Overflows' is just one track, which was already composed in 2005 and extended in 2006. The field recordings were made in Taiwan and in the surroundings of Saint-Nazaire, and consist, if I am correct with the devastating powers of water and overflowing of water, plus a great deal of wind sounds and a minority of city sounds. Its a fine work I must say… while I also have to admit that its the kind of work I have heard more than once in my life. Think a lot of Lopez music, although Dauby is throughout the more audible person, and working less with treated sound, or much closer, Eric LaCasa. Especially his work comes close to that of Dauby. Its that same type of sounds that he uses, a story like approach in composing it and the execution is pretty similar. So while I think Dauby does something great actually - all the right sounds, a fine composition, and such like - its also something that is well explored, by Dauby himself as well as by others. If you are new and think 'what is music made with field recordings' than this might be an excellent place to start. (FdW) Address:


We know Mark Vernon as one half of Vernon & Burns, the plunderphonics who do wonderful radio plays, but he's also a member of Hassle Hound, a trio with also Tony Swain and Ela Orleans. Their previous release was 'Limelight Cordial' (reviewed in Vital Weekly 518. The instruments at their disposal are vocals, violin, toy instruments, guitar, keyboards, guitar, bass, samples, loops, keyboards and computer. With this new album, Staubgold carve their reputation a little bit deeper as a label for good quality popmusic. The opening 'Oropendula' is straight away a killer song. Its not easy to beat that. Hassle Hound play popmusic, but one that is a curious mixture of styles. The singing is most of the times folk like, but there are elements of electronica and laptop doodling around here too, no doubt thanks to Vernon's input. Based on samples as well as playing their instruments themselves makes a very strange version of popmusic, but also a very coherent one. An unity in diverseness, if you can imagine such a thing. Laidback poptunes with no aggressive angle, but with lots of strange angles that make your eyebrows raise. A true pleasure this one, excellent summer music. (FdW) Address:


Brussels' label Ini.itu specializes in music that deals one way or the other with Indonesia, the land, the people, the nature. They should be paying attention to this release by Ingo Sauerbrey, who plays music as Penjaga Insaf. For years now he has been traveling to Indonesia armed with a recorder to tape original Indonesian music from puppet theatres, gamelan and such like, but also from countries such as Vietnam which he uses in his compositions. I didn't study the booklet very hard when I started to play this and I thought at the beginning this was some kind of ambient act using lots of digital synthesizers and a bit of percussion and some heavily processed voices, but as the album progresses the field recordings become clearer and clearer. Sauerbrey reworks the recordings pretty neatly, not beyond recognition, so you always have a clear picture of what is going on. He mixes these together with a fine blend of digital synthesizers, borrowed from the world of ambient dance music. The whole thing is pretty densely layered and it seems like is something going on all levels at the same time. Probably just as colorful as traditional puppet play. An excellent release of highly imaginative music. (FdW)


For his latest release, Ken Ikeda lists a bunch of instruments on the cover which elude me: SD404, SD405, SD407, SD408, prepared toy piano, quena, charango, shamisen, DX7, SEM, Juno 106. In each of the seven pieces a personal memory plays an important role. One piece reads: 'a peru-sih flute was bought at the open marker of 3rd Ave. An instrument for the travellers' or '99.97 celsius grade boiled water sounds different depending on the season, the state of mind and the condition'. With this he creates highly personal music, that is not easy to classify. At times one could think this is all improvised on a bunch of objects and then fed through some computer programm. Think Oval, but then much more chaotic. These improvisations are then partly structured. I must admit I had some trouble with this release. The chaotic, random aspect may work for a piece of two, but perhaps not for the entire length of the CD. One wished for some pieces that used the same sounds, but with some more organization. Now its chaos all around, but in a gentle manner. Ikeda doesn't play noise music, but it seems there is something missing.
I don't think I ever heard of Federico Durand, whose album 'La Siesta Del Ciphers' says "in melodies made for dozy listening, children cover the garden with wreaths. Stars were taken from the network of smooth silver webs, as firewood of the cherry tree crackles. While half asleep, a herd of deer passed in silence next to the emerald pond; this is the slumber of the cypress'. An album of 'small melodies - analogue and digital craftwork'. Intimate music of sweet tinkling (digital) piano, synthesizers and all of that with some reverb for that necessary atmosphere. Sometimes a bit too angular to be really sweet, such as in 'Luna', and of course I wasn't in a state of half-sleep when I heard this. Throughout a pretty decent album, but not that real big surprise either. Perhaps one of many good, fine albums  around. Music that fits well, more then Ikeda I guess, on Spekk, who have a solid reputation for this kind of music. (FdW) Address:


THE AMES ROOM - IN (CD by Monotype Records)
The Ames Room is a trio of Jean-Luc Guionnet (alto saxophone), Will Guthrie (drums) and Clayton Thomas (double bass). Guionnet is a french multitalent, working within a wide range of experimental and improvised music. With The Ames Room he joint forces with two Australian players who both live in Europe. Thomas settled down in Berlin. He is interested especially in power play, complex sound and extreme dynamic control. No wonder he worked with Peter Brotzmann, Mats Gustaffson and lots of other musicians. Guthrie is best known for his home built instruments, and all other kinds of objects and amplifications he extended his drumset with. So the three have many musical faces. As The Ames Room this is the face of power-improvisation as we know it from originator Peter Brotzmann. The Ames Room maintain a constant high level of energy, drive and speed. The record contains two 20 minute improvisations, "Niort" and "Poznan", both recorded in 2009. They succeed in creating an intense atmosphere from beginning to the end. I enjoy the phrasing in Guionnet‚s playing, and the way he is able to tell something of interest in each second of his playing.
"Jazz School" was recorded at Polytech Jazz School, Christchurch, New Zealand on January 28, 2009. Guitarists Chadbourne and Malcolm interpret four compositions by Eric Dolphy and two from Steve Lacy. Chadbourne‚s open and anarchistic way of doing things, is omnipresent as always. The sound is a bit muddy. Other instruments - why not a band? - are missed. All this counts up to the low-fi approach that we know so well from Chadbourne. This makes that I enjoy this one with all ambiguities that I always experience with many other Chadbourne releases.
On the other hand, one always feels the joy and freedom Chadbourne puts in his freaky playing. Like in "Straight up and down" (Dolphy), where he plays a great solo. "Serene" sounds as it is titled, and is a nice moody jazz tune. Other pieces however like "Out to Lunch: have nothing special to offer and can be missed easily. (Dolf Mulder) Address:


Micheal Piercey is behind various labels, such as Smoke Filled Casket, Ketchup Cavern and start a new enterprise called Not On Label. It deals with just field recordings. His own release is called 'Parking Lots' and that says it all. Four straight forward pieces recorded in parking lots. Even when I am known to drive cars, I have been to parking lots before and yes, these pieces are from parking lots. The atmosphere, the ventilation, big metal doors opening and closing, the reverberation of the slightest movement: its all there. Each piece lasts exactly ten minutes. You could wonder why four of them, which I did when I started to play this, but once I finished this I understood why. There is a great variety in these recordings, capturing various moods and types of parking lots. One could also wonder if this needed to be released, but I must say it all sounded wonderfully well.
I also never heard of Gabriel Piller. His release 'Battery' was recorded at 'The Battery', in St. John's in Newfoundland. These are bunkers from World War Two and Piller put condenser microphones through holes in the ceiling to record the empty space. At least that's what I think. Three pieces here. It leaves some more imagination for the listener than the somewhat straight forward 'Parking Lots'. Whatever happens in the bunker is unclear. In the first piece there is some sort of dripping sound going on, whereas the second seems just silence of the space. The final track has the most information, still highly obscured, but it sounds the best of the three. Like locked in ghosts trying to break out, seagulls above, wind blowing hard. Both are conceptually strong releases, whereas the Piercey one is musical a bit stronger. (FdW)


Verato Project is an ongoing series, of CD-R releases, from Suggestion Records from Germany. Each release features some special handmade artwork, limited to only 50-60 hand numbered individually crafted units, each piece features exclusive material by the artist. For the 77th release artist Marcel Herms made the artwork with his well-known colorful brutal images. The CD-R is full with harsh noise created by Government Alpha, the project of Yasutoshi Yoshida from Japan. It is really noisy, strong and powerful. The track of Fever Spoor, the musical project of Marcel Herms from the Netherlands is also a heavy wall of sound. Harsh sounds come and go and alternate each other. An Innocent Young Throat-Cutter is a group of Richard Ramirez is an American noise music artist from Houston. The track develops slowly with noisy soundlines. The last track of The Haters was really a surprise for me. An acoustic rhythm like Sicktone of Coil with an intense brainwashing sound burns into my head. Noisy, smashing and musique concrete sounds come over. A great track what makes this noisy compilation more than complete. Recommended for everyone who wants to fill his head with real pure noise. (Jan-Kees Helms) Address:

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