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Vital Weekly 745

img  Tobias Fischer

SUB LUNA - AWAKE! (CD by Cyclic Law)
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of reviewing some new albums from Cyclic Law, a Canadian record label dedicated to promoting international acts working in the fields of ambient, electroacoustic, industrial, neo classical and neo folk. Present album is the first in label's so-called Eclipse-series, that takes exclusive focus on folk noir. First trip in the Eclipse Series goes to Sweden to meet the duo Sub Luna consisting of Mikael Lindblom and Fredrik Sooberg. The first album "I" from Sub Luna was released in 2004 meanwhile a follow-up titled "In the shade of time" came out in 2006. Since then it has been four years of silence until this album titled "Awake!" came out. On this third album Sub Luna has combined more traditional elements of the dark folk genre with influences of authentic rock and singer song-writer, resulting in a quite pleasant alternative listen experience. Sometimes the expression reminds of a folk-oriented version of Canadian country/rock-band Cowboy Junkies. Excellent vocals first of all from Mikael Lindblom but also with great appearances from female vocalist by Ann-Mari Thim (Arcana). Very nice first album in the Eclipse Series. Let's hope for more in the same level. (Niels Mark)


Six years after its birth, the time has come for Fire In The Head to release its swan song. However do not expect a pretty swan on this one, more rather a very ugly duckling. The "Fire In The Head"-project was formed in early 2004 by Michael Page. After performing live several times as a guest member of a friend's power electronics unit Michael got inspired to begin work on his own harsh electronic project combining aspects of noise, death industrial, drone, dark ambient and power electronics. As said present album titled "Confessions Of A Narcissist" marks the final full-length release by Fire In The Head and contains materials produced in 2007-2008. Expressively, the listener are thrown into hordes of symphonic aggressions that first of all pays attention towards crushing power electronics, sounding like the speakers are burning from the inside. The harsh expression are put to further extremes by some horrific vocals, penetrating momentarily. What makes this ugly work, somehow a piece of beauty is the integration of warm and sometimes even subtly melodic soundscapes into the land of harsh noise and crushing extremity. Pure sonic holocaust par excellence.
Next album comes from a project that also saw the daylight in 2004 just like aforementioned from Fire In The Head, though this is one of the few things in common between those two projects. Expressively we move right to the opposite side of the sound spectre here. Machinefabriek is a Dutch project from the Rotterdam-based sound artist Rutger Zuydervelt. The composer began his sonic explorations as a young boy taking lessons in piano and guitar but after that he went to the Art Academy of Arnhem, probably giving him the artistic and abstract approach to composing. Machinefabriek's music combines elements of ambient, modern classical, drone, noise and field recordings. His latest album titled "Daas" is an excellent piece of experimental ambient. There is a trend in the ambient world to combine the sound of ambience with modern classical, but in many cases the two styles do not melt and therefore doesn't float as one whole. Machinefabriek manage to integrate the acoustic elements into the digital spheres with a hauntingly beautiful end-result. Everyone interested in ambient music should keep an eye on this one.
With the third launch from Cold Spring reviewed here, we stay in the ambient-side of expressions. Still there is a great difference between the gentle and melodic "Daas"-album of Machinefabriek and the utter darkness on next launch being "Hunts & wars" from Tenhornedbeast. Located in the Northern territories of England, British composer Christopher Walton alias Tenhornedbeast has since 2004 launched one album of apocalyptic dark ambient after the other. As I three years back reviewed the previous album of Tenhornedbeast titled "The sacred truth", I described the music as being death industrial with comparison to Swedish genre-legend Brighter Death Now. On this new album recorded in the period between 2006-09 the harshness has been decreased. What is left behind is seven pieces of black ambience and the result is great and even better than previous album. The expressions on the pieces are repetitive and slowly moving in-between drones of buzzing darkness. Last track is the lengthy 20 minutes title track "Hunts & wars". A great work that opens in pure darkness but halfway through turns into semi-melodic ambient-spheres thus adding some warmth to the otherwise cold and cynic world of the beast.
Last album reviewed here comes from a true legend. Von Thronstahl is a German project established by Josef Maria Klumb back in the mid-90's. Stylistically Von Thronstahl operates in spheres far away from aforementioned three albums. Having released  a number of albums from beginning, Von Thronstahl first of all works in the fields of Martial, Industrial, Neoclassical and Neofolk. If you haven't heard materials from the project, present double disc-compilation is a good beginners
guide with early materials plus various mixes and remixes. (Niels Mark)


Apart from his release on Mystery Sea called 'EE[ND] (see Vital Weekly 611), I never heard Kassel Jaeger again, and now he's appearing on the Mystery Sea subdivision Unfathomless, thus granted a 'real' CD. Jaeger recorded 'rivers shores un Berlin and Koln, wind & pipelines in Paris, air and nocturnal insects in some remote places in France, algae, mudflat and harbor in I'lle de Re, ultralight aircraft in Pinarello (Corsica) and other sounds in some other hidden places, as written on the cover. On the label's website we find his own comment: "What originated these "lignes d'erre & randons" were sounds collected in different and special spaces which have been important to me. These sounds, trapped into my remembrances, had no other choice than mutate and evolve, drawing subterranean flows and creating a genuine underworld of recollections", which perhaps as an artist' statement is a bit poor. Why, if these places were so important, mutate and evolve those sounds, I wondered. Jaeger, at day time a sound engineer at GRM in Paris, however has a fine ear when it comes to recording these sounds and treating them with computer aims. The seven pieces he put together with these sound sources are great, just like 'EE[ND]'. His works has more to do the world of electro-acoustic sound treatments inhabited by the world of INA/GRM than that of microsound. For Jaeger its apparently important not to stretch out a limited set of sounds with some computer plug ins, but to create a piece that is multi-layered, put together in a collage form. His works reminds me of that of Christopher McFall or Jos Smolders, both of whom stretch out the possibilities of working with field recordings. A rare thing in that particular world, and as such Jaeger does some more than excellent work. (FdW) Address:


Multitalent Nico Huijbregts is active as a writer, painter, composer and improvisor (piano). All disciplines are interrelated in the perception of Huijbregts. His output however can easily divided along these disciplines. 'Falsche Tango' is a collection of several of his compositions, supplemented by one short piano improvisation. It is the first cd with compositions by Huijbregts, if I'm not mistaken. Earlier he released cd's with improvised piano music, that received good reviews. 'Falsche Tango' contains four compositions for different line ups. The title piece is performed by Duo Mares, being Esra Pehlivani (viola) and Marko Kassl (accordeon). This composition is deeply rooted in the tango idiom, avoiding superficial stylistic quotations or tiring ironic comments. It sounds 'wie gegossen', with a strong nucleus. The opening track 'Herbie rides again' is for a trio of Ned McGowan (flute, contrabass), Naomi Sato (alto sax) and Ere Lievonen (piano). Nicely arranged, giving room to the players and the their instruments. The shortest piece 'Dancing the night away' is a solo piece on piano played by Huijbregts himself. Here one can identify some of the stylistic qualities that are typical for Huijbregts and that can also be found in the other pieces: quickly accelerating short runs, followed by slower and quieter passages. A certain elegance is present in his music throughout. 'Sisyphos' is an impressive work for harmonium, played by Dirk Luijmes on a harmonium that was built more then a century ago. I enjoyed it most for the sound qualities of this instrument. With this release Huijbregts proves himself being a composer with a clear handwriting and disciplined style. With 'Falsche Tango' delivers a cd of engaging works of chamber music. (Dolf Mulder)


TEHO TEARDO - SOUNDTRACK WORK 2004-2008 (CD by Expanding Records)
Modern Institute, a duo from Italy, surprised me with their 'Excellent Swimmer' release (see Vital Weekly 518): a fine combination of cello, piano, synthesizers in an almost modern classical manner. Modern Institute is Martina Bertoni on cello and Teho Teardo on everything else. Teho Teardo, whom we know since the 80s when he played with Nurse With Wound, Scorn and Lydia Lunch is very active, beyond Modern Institute. In Italy he works on soundtracks for films. Films, I readily admit, I haven't see, like 'Le Ragazza Del Lago', 'Il Passato E Una Terra Straniera', 'Il Divo' (which won the David di Nonatello prize, handed to him by Ennio Morricone), 'L'Amico Di Famielia' and 'Lavorare Con Lentezza'. Pieces from these films appear on this disc, filled with twenty-five short, sketch like pieces. Still Teardo plays everything else, except for a whole list of people contributing violin, viola, cello and bass. Its indeed great soundtrack music, although it reveals very little about the actual films, I think. By and large this is modern classical music, with a few bits of modern day electronics in it, gentle and light mostly, and dark and atmospheric on a smaller number of occasions. Like the Nakamura disc a great one, be it, a little less jazz, but perhaps also out of place in Vital Weekly. A piece like 'Miss Agropontino', with its metronome like clicking rhythm, comes close to what is covered here, but its a rarity. But like with Nakamura disc, again, its still lazy sunday afternoon, and these beautiful, meandering violins form a suitable soundtrack for such lazy, rainy sunday afternoons. A great work for occasions like this. (FdW) Address:


BOY DIRT CAR - FAMILIA (LP by Aftermusic Records)
After Music Records announce Boy Dirt Car to be one of 'America's premier noise bands', from the 80s, which is of course media talk, and after a long disappearance they already did a comeback CD 'Spoken Answer To A Silent Question' (see Vital Weekly 605) and now come back, again, with a LP with the classic line up, albeit still without Eric Lunde. But Darren Brown is still there, along with compadre's as Dave Szolwinski, Dan Kubinski, Keith Brammer, Steve Whalen and Jeff Hamilton plus a couple of guests. We have here a record that is more noise based than their previous CD, using lots of guitar, bass and metal percussion and a crazy set up of cut up vocals and voices. Much more unsettling than the rock drones offered on 'Spoken Answer To A Silent Question', with a large role played by the vocals of Darren Brown (we remember his industrial music poetry project Impact Test very well). No careful constructed ambient industrial patterns this time but two sides of mayhem. Hardly composed as such, but instead it seems thrown on the magnetic tape, splicing unrelated parts together. While the cover lists individual tracks, the whole thing comes across as a long track, for some convenience (?) sake given a bunch of titles. The mayhem doesn't constitute of just pure noise, or pure feedback, but, on the other hand its a great collage of sound snippets, instrument abuse and electro-acoustic rumble taking to an extreme. Excellent noise stuff. Two different approaches - the previous CD and this LP - but both with a great quality. (FdW)


What precisely was the reason to call some music 'cosmic music'? I no longer remember, even while I am using the same reference too. Its to point that kind of music that is entirely made using a string of analogue synthesizers and some sound effects. Dating back to the golden years, the early seventies, Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, Ash Ra Temple or Vangelis, there is currently a revival of that kind of music - with Emeralds being on top of the scene. Dronaement, also known as Marcus Obst, has of course the best artist name to present such music and delved up some shelved music from 2007. Four parts of 'Organ' music and two parts of 'Cosmic Tape'. This is textbook stuff of what this cosmic music is. Slowly changing, with slow arpeggio's on a bunch of synths, with minimal moves, of which the intentions are to bring the listener into some altered state. Its not easy to say wether this works really well. As a reviewer I can't take drugs whenever the music demands so (although donations in hard cash to do that are of course most welcome), but the darker cosmos explored by Dronaement is certainly a great place. The four 'organ' pieces as the more minimalist outings here, whereas the 'Cosmic Tape' pieces are even more classic in approach and which can easily be ranked as the best Dronaement stuff I heard so far. Maybe because of the positive buzz around the somehow old fashioned cosmic music clouds my judgement a bit, but this is surely great stuff. (FdW)


The motto of the Klanggold label is 'we like calm listeners' and that certainly applies to the music of Boris Snauwaert, better known as Haruki. Like I remarked with his previous release 'The Land That Lies Behind Us' (see Vital Weekly 726), his music is now slowly maturing. Forgotten are the days of 'Haphazardly, While Sitting' (see Vital Weekly 652). The opening piece 'Animals All Over The Table' is a bit grainy with mildly distortion on guitar sounds, but the four pieces to follow show a great love and affection for acoustic sounds (piano and guitar I assume) treated with the usual digital means. The sharp edges are gone and in its place we find some great textured music. Coherent playing, which is what his music needs, I think, not wander about in various styles that he sometimes tend to do. Here its all along similar lines. If anything, his music comes now close to the Machinefabriek sound: spacious music, with a bit of post rock like guitar playing, a sparse note on the piano and some loop station repeating the sustain on end. Excellent release, his best so far. (FdW)

Fun With Nuns is a very extended collective: Alaina (xylophones, guitar), Panos (tenor sax, vocals), Aki Po (bass, vocals, guitar, drums, tenor sax, various objects), B.d.l (tenor sax, various wind instruments), Thana.sys (electronics, guitars), Elen (drums), Kleo (guitars), Xari (guitar, sax), Santo Petroleo (drums), Pablo (trumpets, vocals), Emdy (piano, electronics, effects), Vinylias (tenor sax, bass, drums, various objects), Nigga (bass, drums), Thazastabo (various recorders/flutes), Socrates (xaphoon, extreme japanese vocals, tenor sax). All take part in the scene of Thessaloniki, Greece where the collective plays in constantly different line ups. Their music is best described as freeform psychedelic music in the tradition of Can. They create intense waves of rock without much happening in them. They do this in a convincing and enthusiastic way. From time to time the music reaches freaky climaxes, and all is condensed well on this 3 inch CDR. (Dolf Mulder)


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