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Vital Weekly 746

img  Tobias Fischer

Two weeks ago I reviewed 'Dear Mr. Lynch' by Danielle Lemaire, now its time for her husband Jan van den Dobbelsteen. Together they spend some longer time in China earlier this year and both have a release out as a result. Whereas Lemaire's release came in a wooden box, Van den Dobbelsteen has a book like object with sturdy cardboard holding the two CDs in place and a few images of stones. It looks absolutely great. Information wise however this is the usual Van den Dobbelsteen work (even when we didn't review all thirty six releases in his Cosmic Volume series): next to nothing. It says it was made at the CEAC residency project 'Translations' in Xiamen, China, from February to May 2010. The website of the organizers and those who paid for it. But nothing about the music itself, or even the smallest bit of information. Cosmic Volume 35 is called 'Useless Stones' and 36 is 'Always Wear A Mirror On Your Back'. In good spirit and without too much knowledge on China and its culture, I googled for both titles, to see if there is some Chinese wisdom hidden in these titles. The disposable stones seem to be part of the game 'Go', which I never played. The other title has just one reference: this CD. So we are back. 'Useless Stones' doesn't have the sound stones, of course, but some stringed instrument being strummed or plucked with some bow or motorized appliance. Things move here, but on a very minimal level. Sometimes with a somewhat longer sustain on the sounds and sometimes not at all. Quite a curious release indeed.
With the word 'mirror' in the title of the second disc I suspect this 'Always Wear A Mirror On Your Back' to be the mirror of 'Useless Stones'. Maybe, I might be entirely wrong here, it feeds the sounds of 'Useless Stones' into a max-msp patch and follows the same route as on the other one, but then entirely sounding computerized, like scrambled morse code. Like the other CD in this package this is again an entirely minimal work (maybe a zen like approach?), but with sufficient small changes to maintain interest for a long time. Maybe not the entire sixty minutes, again, but well enough for the three quarters of it, unlike 'Useless Stones' which held my attention for the entire length of the release. (FdW) Address:


It is kind of funny, I was thinking, to receive a 3CD of, let's put it bluntly, of 'b-sides' of a band I never heard before. But trusting Rroopp's good taste in music, I said yes to their question wether they should send me a promo of this lot. I remembered their three-pack of AMP (see Vital Weekly 578), which harked back to the days that I had a stronger interest in all things post-rock. Its not that I don't like it anymore: every now and then, when time permits I play stuff by Windy & Carl, AMP, Tortoise, Flying Saucer Attack and bands like that. But somehow Appliance, a trio of James Brooks, David Ireland and Michael Parker escaped my attention, but perhaps this was due to the fact they were signed to Mute Records. That struck me as odd, since hardly a label for things post-rock, but what do I know about running big time label? Ok, so I put it bluntly, 'b-sides', but that's not intending to play down what's on here. Its merely to say that might not be the 'normal' Appliance stuff, but rather a collection of BBC sessions, early vinyl material and, indeed 'b-sides', being stuff from obscure vinyl, compilations and MP3 only tracks. Maybe not their most accessible stuff, and perhaps (again what I do know?) the more 'difficult' stuff, but then that's probably the best introduction for a more experimental head like me. I must say that what I heard from this three hour introduction, I was pretty pleased. Maybe I wasn't blown away by some of the vocal pieces, in which the voice reminded me too much of Thom Yorke's voice, but luckily those pieces are a rarity (mainly on the BBC sessions, it seemed); in other stuff the voice has more its own. The raw start, as depicted on their early EPs where the best for me, when they are more on an experimental level, working with a few sounds, and crafting some nice post-rock pop songs together. Not over-long doodling in jazz rock/rock like textures, but miniature excursuses in post rock style. But always keeping in mind a well rounded song structure. I liked the instrumental best, usually b-sides or early stuff. It was a damn mighty fine introduction. Would I rush out to hear their regular work now? I was thinking about that question. I doubt that. No matter how much I liked at least two-third of this release, for the time being its enough to come back to this release a few more times. (FdW)

(CD by Pica Disk)
Readily I admit a few things. I am not the biggest lover of noise anymore. There's hardly a secret. Also I haven't kept up with the output of Jazkamer over the years. My fault. But I do like noise when its played with some imagination. And over the years I always a keen ear for whatever came from the rooms of Jazkamer my way. There you go. Did I mention already that I think their 'Pancakes' release is a classic? Maybe I didn't mention it this time, but I will. Two sides of the same coin on these two new releases. First, right corner of this match, we find 'Matthew 28:17', the noise part. Hegre plays guitar and Marhaug organ and electronics. The bible verse is about Jesus and his resurrection, and his talking to his apostles. Some worshipped him, others doubted. I have no idea why Jazkamer use this verse, but this is Jazkamer absorbing and re-contextualising the world of noise and psychedelics. Wrapped sounds of guitar distortion, and whaling organ, all covered with dust and debris of ring modulation, distortion pedals and such like. Perhaps a bit too heavy for my taste, but Jazkamer's noise is not restricted to just a 'pure' wall of sound approach. They know what they are doing and they do, here at least, a great job in their wall of sound approach. Interestingly enough: the CD lasts longer than 28 minutes and seventeen seconds.
In the left corner we find 'Self-Portrait', which is an altogether different work. No track titles, no biblical references, but two men in a (large?) room, with a bunch of metal and two (or more?) bows at their disposal. Electronics? Not likely, but perhaps also not excluded entirely. I assume Hegre and Marhaug sit on the floor with their bows and play carefully the metal sheets, rods, pipes and what have you. Sometimes things end up being 'loud' (although to everything one has to turn the volume up quite a bit), but that's just the ringing of overtones. In my book this is noise too, but then of an entirely different nature. Not in the sense of just being 'loud', but in its approach to the non musical material at hand. In a way I'm reminded of 'Glass' by Sissy Spacek (see Vital Weekly 678), especially the second piece on there. The non-music approach marks this off as a noise release, but you should add 'intelligent' to it. A match between two equal parts. I know some will announce 'Matthew 28:17' as the winner, but in this fine game there were no winners. Both CDs are part of their 2010 campaign to release a CD every month. If they manage to hold this level of variation, it's surely worth getting them all. (FdW) Address:


VARIOUS ARTISTS - AUDIOTOOP II (CD, 3"CD, 7" single, book and badges by Extrapool/Korm Plastics)
It is probably hard to imagine the popularity of the radio play ("hoorspel" in Dutch) today, but in the 1940s it was the form of entertainment available to a wider audience. Radio plays (or radio dramas) started live in the 1920s and can be best described as audio storytelling, depending on dialogue, music and sound effects to help the listener imagine a story. As such, it is hardly a feature anymore on today's radio, which is nothing like a tragedy to be honest. The equivalent of the radio play today is perhaps the audio book, but, with its lack of music and effects, this pales in comparison. Radio plays gripped listeners by the throat, they were an audio rollercoaster of emotions, be it romantic, dramatic or humoristic. Recognizing the historic value of the radio play, Nijmegen's club Extrapool first engaged into organizing an evening of radio plays set in a live environment in early 2005, under the name of Audiotoop. The results were documented in a book and CD. For Audiotoop II, Extrapool and Korm Plastics invited sound artists, musicians and other artists to develop a radio play or to work with this theme. There were no limitations other than that the pieces had to rely on a narrative backbone. The results of the presentations were to be published in the form of a CD/book, which is right in front of me. And what a package it is; even if stencil printing is not your favorite graphic technique, you cannot help but being impressed by the scope of this package. Audiotoop II features one mini CD, one regular sized CD, one single, three badges and a large book of postcards all wrapped up in a heavy carton cover. This looks spectacular! The plays are divided in three formats: 18 one-minute pieces on a mini CD, 3 longer pieces on a regular sized CD and 2 pieces on the single. It is difficult to tell a cohesive story when restricted to one minute and that shows on the mini CD. The pieces by Leif Elggren and Edward Kaspel (whose voice seems created for story telling) at least show the promise of a radio play, but there are more tracks that feature random voices, hints of voices, unrecognizable voices or no voices at all (Lucky Dragons or Howard Stelzer). That does not mean these are not good tracks, it just means they took a more abstract approach to the subject. There is great material by Wolfgang M¸ller (from T–dliche Doris), Greg Malcolm, Roel Meelkop and Idea Fire Company (to name a few). There is also not-so-great material by Runzelstirn und Gurgelstock, who contribute random noises without voices, sounding passÈe in the process. Worth a separate mention is "Prijsvraag" by Frans de Waard. This radio play is actually a quiz where you can win 10 Euros if you guess the sound - a reply card has been enclosed with the package. The regular sized CD features longer material (up to 30 minutes) by Coolhaven, Power Plant and Mai Marie & Soul is You. Here the stories are more to the fore, with time allowing the artists to develop something of a plot (even though "plot" would be a subjective term). The Mai Marie & Soul is You contribution is in Dutch, but don't let that put you off. Finally the single has 2 tracks by Bertin van Vliet, who, on Polka Dot Com sounds like Asmus Tietchens' Aroma Club (and that's a compliment). The B-side features a longer story on space and space travel. The three badges included in this package are all different in format. I'm not what their link to this project is, but they do look great. So here we have a utterly beautiful package and concept, bringing the radio play back to live, but not restricting itself to the traditional format. Artists were given liberty to work with this concept. That is what Audiotoop is about and that is what makes this a wonderful piece of work. (Freek Kinkelaar)


THE RENT - MUSIQUE DE STEVE LACY (CD by Ambiances Magnetiques)
ANTOINE BERTHIAUME - SMALL TEASE (CD by Ambiances Magnetiques)
Four new releases from Ambiances Magnetiques. After their joyful CD with works by Lars Hollmer, who sadly died in 2008, Fanfare Pourpour now returns with a bunch of self-made compositions. One of them is again a homage to Lars Hollmer. And in a way this ensemble is close to the spirit of Hollmer's repertoire. Folk-based music with dominant melodic and harmonic features. Many of the members of this ensemble we know from more experimental and unusual music. But in Fanfare Pourpour they celebrate their love for accessible dance tunes coming from a diversity of traditions. The title track "Danse des Breloques" has balkan roots, but elements of tango, waltzes, pasodoble, chanson, etc. also pass by. Again an irresistible work I have reviewed several other CDs by Berthiaume for Vital Weekly. The continuity in his releases consists in choosing for each release a new musical direction. Earlier works embrace his improvisations with Bailey and Frith. Also he made CD of very accessible easy listening jazz, etc. He seems to feel at home in many different musical contexts. So I'm always curious what will be the next step by Berthiaume. With "Small Tease" he shows his affection for folk music. For those who know his western-folkgroup RodÈoscopique, this will be no surprise. "Small Tease" is again a very accessible music, albeit thoroughly constructed and played with great skill. The CD counts 11 pieces. Five of them feature Berthiaume playing solo guitar, dobro or banjo. The other six pieces are for different line ups, with drummer Stefan Schneider, RÈmi-Jean Leblanc on doublebass, Rick Haworth on pedal steel, and a string trio with Jennifer Thiessen, AmÈline Chauvette Groulx and Erika Donald.
The Rent is a Toronto-based quintet of Kyle Brenders (soprano sax), Nich Fraser (drums), Susanna Hood (voice), Wes Neal (bass) and Scott Thomson (trombone). They pay a tribute to Steve Lacy, by playing several of his compositions. I‚m not very familiar with the work by Lacy, who left a gigantic oeuvre and was inspired on his turn by Thelonious Monk. If this is the same for you, I guess The Rent offers you a good opportunity to change this. It swings but is a bit cerebral too at the same time. The Rent give a very inspired interpretation of Lacy‚s compositions that never sound outdated. With "Musique de Steve Lacy", The Rent offers a fine tribute to Lacy and his compositional talent, and they bring a convincing first record to your attention.
"Masafat" is the work of a trio: Kiya Tabassian on setar, and shuranguiz, both Persian string instruments plus violin, Pierre-Yves Martel on prepared contrabass and Ziya Tabassian on percussion. Ziya Tabassian is specialized in early as well as contemporary music. He released a solo album on Ambiances Magnetiques earlier, experimenting with old Persian music and improvisation. Kiya Tabassian received his initial training in Persian music and studied composition in Montreal later. He is co-founder of Constantinople, an ensemble that concentrates on medieval and renaissance music. Kiya and Pierre are also member of this ensemble.
With "Masafat", meaning "Distance" they joined for an adventurous undertaking: free improvisation combined with traditional Persian music and instruments. Not in every aspect a satisfying release. Sometimes it is a bit too amorph and unfocused for my taste. Maybe I‚m not familiar enough with the grammar of eastern music. Anyway, there are also some very strong moments, like the opening of "Casselma" or the middle section of "Dungevan". Or the bluesy tune "Gatineau". (Dolf Mulder)


It wouldn't be an exaggeration to call Polish label OBUH Records legendary. Since 1987, the label has released experimental music on physical formats such as vinyl, tapes and CDs, with a wide spectre of releases spanning from Francisco Lopez to Wumpscut. Present just-launched album comes from Polish project Job Karma, being a joint venture between Macjiek Frett & Aureliusz Pisarzewski. The twosome had their debut-album "Cycles per second" released twelve years ago and since then a number of releases on CD, CDR and DVD has come out. Latest shot from Job Karma carries the title "Punkt" and stylishly we find ourselves somewhere between ambient and industrial with some slight ethnic influences. Concrete noises is just one part of the expression that also includes subtle dronescapes and (electro)acoustic elements such as drums and guitars. Some tracks recalls the electro-punk scene of the late 70's meanwhile other tracks approaches the ambient-scene of chilling trance-induction and subtle rhythm textures. Interesting album indeed. (Niels Mark)


(CD by Col Legno)
Loeschel is a Viennese composer and musician with a background in performing contemporary music. Later he became more involved in improvisation, continuing composing for dance, theatre, etc. I have played his CD "Herz Bruch Stuck" endlessly. It had a perfect balance between jazz and viennese music and soul. With his new work Loeschel composed music to the "Songs of Innocence", a cycle of poems by William Blake, plus another poem - "Chapel of Gold" - also by Blake. The music is performed by his ensemble Exit Eden: Clayton Thomas (bass), Burkhard Stangl (guitars, fender rhodes) Theresa Eipeldauer (vocals, backing vocals), Thomas Berghammer (trumpet, flugelhorn). Hannes Loeschel plays piano and fender rhodes. It is a fantastic ensemble, playing with much understatement and as a consequence the music is constantly tickling and itchy. Concerning this aspect it is comparable with 'Herz Bruch Stuck'. Freaky guitar playing from time to time, but never dominant and always contributing to the whole. The same can be said of the fine trumpet playing by Berghammer. Special guest is Phil Minton, lending his characteristic voice for this project. His deep voice is still in tact. No wonder that the songs that carry his voice are substantially defined by his baritone. Special mentioning deserves Willy Puchner for the excellent illustrations of the textbook. (Dolf Mulder)


With a career that easily goes into its third decade now, Lukas Simonis has been all over the place. From stints as a 'regular' guitarist in bands as Dull Schicksal and Trespassers W, he is these days active with Coolhaven (a band that defies every description I guess) and furthermore as an improviser. In recent times he has made a couple of collaborative records, and this is his latest. He teams up with Anne La Berge, who lives in Amsterdam, and plays flute, electronics and voice. The world of improvised music, a duet of two people, two instruments and lots of electronics to sufficiently alter the sounds of the instruments. You can hear the pleasure they have in playing their instruments, the electronics and the interaction between the two. Unlike many others in this field, they tend to keep their pieces short and to the point. No lengthy, careful excursions, well balanced material, but sometimes crude playing, with white noise meandering about. The flute is throughout more difficult to recognize than the guitar, but its the sheer joy that counts. Buzzing (some literally with cable hum and speaker noise), vibrating and bouncing, this moves all over the place. Joyful improvisation! (FdW) Address:


NOISE OF COLOGNE 1 (CD by Mark e.V.)
Noise can be, of course, a lot of things. So whatever you assume of 'Noise Of Cologne', you might be entirely right or wrong. Its the city of Kompakt, A-Musik, and once of Staubgold, but perhaps more importantly, also the city where in the early 50s Stockhausen and Eimert composed the very first purely electronic pieces. Its in that tradition that we place this compilation. Berlin may be a vibrant city, but so is Cologne. Of the seventeen acts/names I recognized only a few: C. Schulz & F.X. Randomiz, Thomas Lehn/Marcus Schmickler and Frank Schulte. None of the other names ring any bell. The music is throughout not really the sort of noise which you sometimes find in these pages, as discussed by Jliat. No walls of feedback and distortion terror, or adolescent screams for sex and death. The music is indeed more along the lines of early electronic music such as in the pieces by Hans W. Koch, Volker Hennes, Frank Barknecht and Siegfried Koepf. From the world of improvisation we find Michael Beil, Manner Mit Motoren, Matthias Mainz while micro glitches from Schulte is lone cowboy. Maybe the only true noise is the duo Lehn/Schmickler and the short improvisation by Robert Vater and the best piece is the one that is entirely built from train sounds by Schulz/Randomiz - which makes that a very french piece - same time, other tradition. Throughout a nice compilation, and one where you can find lots of great new names. (FdW) Address:


In a plain virgin, nice cardboard sleeve with a small die cut, we find a LP and a DVD by my all time favorite Portuguese band Osso Exotico. Perhaps Osso Exotico shifted to the back of my memory, seeing David Maranha, at least in the last decade, more and more active as a solo performer and improviser. But 'his' band still exists and consists of his brother Andre Maranha, Francisco Tropa, Patricia Machas and Manuel Moto. The website of the label (which seems more like a prestigious art institute) doesn't seem have any information regarding this release, or the performance connected to it. It seems to be some kind of performance, which the band performed a few times, the DVD was shot on March 15th 2009 and the LP recorded a week later. I started with the DVD, in which I see two hands with paint or chalk performing some kind of action painting, but almost in slow motion. It also seems if the sounds of the underground on which this action is performed, is amplified. Slowly it is revealed what the underground is and what the objects are, which are in the hands. I won't spoil that. There is also music in the background, organ perhaps, guitar maybe, but it stays in the background, and seems to be filling in the gaps. On the one sided LP the music is more in balance with the action, which involves, it seems, the same action but here the music is more upfront, which is quite nice. A similar, minimal approach which regards to organs and guitar, as well as the scrapping of the surface. The music is very gentle, unlike some of the more demanding solo music of David Maranha (which is more like Velvet Underground), and also, it seems, more loosely improvised than some of the more tighter composed pieces of the older Osso Exotico. Throughout however, in all its briefness (two pieces of twenty minutes), a more than excellent product. Osso Exotico never lets me down. (FdW)


C.D., erstwhile in Reynols, and since long solo as Earzumba, is a man of plunderphonics. Armed with sampling keyboards, instruments (guitar, drums), he fills every available gap in his music with snippets of sounds, mainly voice related material. He has released a whole bunch of works, which I quite enjoyed and his side to this split LP doesn't disappoint me either. There is a great vibrancy to his music, which is both pleasing and entertaining at the same time. That's good. Yet there is a small consideration to be made about Earzumba's music and that is wether one could wonder if it is about time to change a little bit. Try out a new path maybe, say a radio play, working around a central theme, divided into various chapters? Maybe a thought to consider?
Jib Kidder is a new name for me. A guy who studied with Alex Kvares and Jimmy Young from Atlanta and who is more an audio-visual artist. It seems to me also a man of  keys, electric piano, sampling keyboard set against the wildest free drumming (maybe from a box, maybe live, or, more likely, a combination of both). Like a jazz funk record. Jib Kidder has been called 'a funky Books', which is not something I share, as The Books seem to have a more delicate sound than this wild free rocking bunch of lunatic sounds (which I mean to be positive). Quite a driving force here but it works quite well. Also on the side of plunderphonics, but in a more musical context. A DVD-R of crazy videoclips do the trick I guess. Wildly chopping up found footage. Address:


First of all this: this release comes in a shrink-wrapped digipack, in an edition of 500 copies, but its still a CDR. Why not press a real CD I wondered? In August last year Voice Of Eye traveled to Portland, Oregon to play a show by invitation of one Soriah. Voice Of Eye set up, soundcheck and wait. But unlike some drinking bands, they pass their time by playing music. In this case, an hour worth releasing, on objects and devices found in Soriah's house - although not exactly is specified what those objects are. The cover says that all 'all sounds herein are acoustic in origin', which may mean that they are fed through a line of electronics. Voice Of Eye in their current incarnation are a band that combines improvisation with ambient textures. So lengthy 'oohs and aahs' are sung into the microphone and a simple tick to a cup can expand into a small symphony of sound textures. Three of these improvisations, plus a fourth one, a bonus track (which I must admit didn't alternate very much from the other pieces) is indeed well enough. Rather than hearing this music in a very conscious way, which is no doubt the task for a reviewer, one should just lie back and let it a flow about. Dark, atmospheric, ambient, all those words that did apply to their previous releases, and in fact ever since they started, apply to these recordings, yet its played with a certain looseness, which is an uncommon thing in the world of ambient music. Its actually quite nice, but especially when one doesn't try and figure out if there are such things in play as composition or structure. Relax your mind and float downstream. (FdW) Address:

AUTOPSIA - FACTORY RITUALS (DVD-R by Illuminating Technologies)
In my heart there is always space for Autopsia. I know, I know. Its perhaps not something you'd expect from me, Autopsia being, at least for some, a gothic band of orchestral sampling and/or a small time version of Laibach, but maybe its a historical thing that I like what they are doing. I first came across them on a few compilation cassettes in the 80s, eventually released a whole cassette by them, and after that kept up with them. Their CD 'Death Is The Mother Of Beauty', one of the earliest CD releases on Staalplaat, is still a particular favorite. Since a few years, Autopsia keeps me informed of new releases and so I got this release, which is, apparently, part of Mirror Of Destruction, an exhibition in Museum of Modern Art in Belgrade. Lots of black and white footage of factory halls, cars, Mercedes flags, but also nature shots. Some moving images, some static images. All in a rather political mood, which is something I haven't seen that openly before with them. Nice enough, but not something I would watch a lot. I'd always rather go for the music. That is an odd mixture, like always it seems, of those much sampled orchestral sounds and industrial sounds. The mechanical rhythm of industry in motion. 'Gothic' perhaps, but there is something in Autopsia's music that I like. Perhaps its just the mighty cliche of classical music, the pompous playing of horns blearing away, much strings and percussion hammering. A form of military marching music even. This I liked more than the actual films, which, I must admit add a frighting sight. Not easy listening, but demanding - although not always on a pure musical level. (FdW)


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