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Vital Weekly 747

img  Tobias Fischer

SAROOS - SEE ME NOT (CD by Alien Transistor)
A trio from Germany, ranking Florian Zimmer (Iso68, Jersey), Christoph Brandner (Lali Puna, Console) and Max Punktezahl (the Notwist, Contriva) as its members. If you know these bands they are, and I know only some, you might have a clue where Saroos will bring you. Imagine a post rock band with just too much love for electronica and studio techniques. Capable players of their instruments (drums, bass, guitars), plus also capable of adding all the right electronics to make it a great record, without getting it overwhelmed by technique. Krautrock like rhythms, banging on end, groovy at times, jazzy at others, celebrated wit nice vocal samples, flutes and such like become vibrant matters. Bass heavy, dub like, post rock, more jazz and lots of headspace. Eight pieces of this instrumental hybrid of pop music's finest. A great CD - a total outcast for Vital Weekly obviously, and that's perhaps why I digest this so well. If you like the bands these people are a member of, then this will surely needs your attention. (FdW) Address:

It is kind of funny, I was thinking, to receive a 3CD of, of a composer I never heard before. That was more or less my introduction to Appliance last wee, but now also applies to Bj¯rn Fongaard. This Norwegian composer and guitar player lived from 1919 to 1980 and during his life he never released a single LP of his music, yet he had some pieces on 'Electronic Music From Norway', which Lasse Marhaug bought a few years ago, and that led for him to the discovery of Fongaard's music. Fongaard's daughter contacted Marhaug after he wrote something on that 1966 LP and this, eventually, resulted in this box-set. So unlike Appliance I don't have to feel entirely guilty for not knowing this name. Fongaard was foremost a guitar player, appearing as a studio musician on many records, and as many times on TV and radio, but the real interesting thing is his interest in micro-tonal guitar. Instead of twelve tones, he uses twenty-four, on a special custom built guitar. He also composed pieces of an orchestral nature. On the first CD we find pieces for solo guitar, many of them onto tape, but without extensive processing techniques. It seems to me that these pieces are more or less improvised, working on all those smallest tones. Certainly nice and ahead of its time, seeing that some of these pieces were recorded in the mid sixties. Of greater musical interest, for me at least, is the second disc, which has seven piece of Elektrofonia 'for Orchestra Mircotonalis'. How these were made is not clear - the booklet is extensive on many sides, but somehow lack information like this - but they sound great. Almost like sparse drone music, floating very spaciously about. An excellent work. The third CD sees a continuation of the first one, so it seems, with more pieces that sound improvised. Some of these have that spacious character of the second CD, and some of the improvised nature of the first CD. The DVD has some interesting things too. There is a ballet, an animation/ballet, a TV fantasy and an audio only interview. All of this is quite nice, although may not add a lot to the previous three hours of music. The main thing however is the TV interview from 1971 which you may not understand, but I recommend you watch it, since he shows how he plays his guitar: study material for aspiring table top guitarists. I must say I thought the whole package was quite fascinating, but also a bit too much. No doubt entirely my problem wanting to digest it all at once, but such I guess is the life of a reviewer. However its surely a small monument for a great unknown composer. (FdW)

Some weeks ago I received the official announcement that Francisco Meirino is no longer using the name Phroq as his moniker, but from now on wishes to work under his real name only. I wrote about this tendency before, and no doubt it has something to do with opting to be taken more seriously (by whom I wonder?). Dave Philips works as such for a much longer period of time. There is an interesting parallel to be drawn from both artists, which is that both work with what I call intelligent noise. Both of them use the collage/cut-up in a dramatic way. They have various building blocks of electro-acoustic sounds and field recordings at their disposal, which they cut together. Sometimes deceivingly silent and quite, which can linger on quite a bit, but just when you don't expect this, they cut it out with some harsh, nasty sound. That happens a few times on their collaborative work, as its hardly a surprise that both man work together. The six pieces on this work, which took four years to create, are excellent examples of their work. There is a great sense of story telling in these pieces, although its not obvious what this story is. Its captivating music throughout, very intense and thoughtful. Sometimes this puts you off, since there are odd changes and interruptions, loud as hell, but you can not help but sucked into this music. Definitely from the background of noise music, but with so much more to tell and with so much more pleasure to hear. Excellent collaboration. (FdW)


SAM HAMILTON - PALA (LP by Tumblingstrain)
More music by Sam Hamilton, as a follow up to 'Sooty Symposium' (see Vital Weekly 667) and this time packed in a nicer cover. It doesn't list any instruments, except that live drums where played by Chris O'Connor and Alex Brown. So I believe to hear voices, guitars, electronics, organ sounds and such like. Eight tracks and Hamilton moves away from the loopy pieces of instrumentals, in favor of his own form of popmusic. Wicked and wild, jumpy and bouncy. It doesn't belong to any particular world but perhaps to many. The keyboards and rhythm machines play a too fast techno bit, the vocals (multi-layered most of the times) however remind me of Richard Youngs on speed (like on his Dekorder LP) and so does perhaps a fair bit of the music on this record. Music that leaves the listener behind without breath. I am not exactly sure what to make of this. Perhaps I liked the previous CD more? But having said that, there is something about this record that is surely quite captivating. A fresh take on the whole notion of singer songwriting thing for sure. Extremely odd music, which doesn't make it much clearer, I know. Every time I play this, I like it more. Surely one of the more stranger records of recent times. (FdW)
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A limited edition LP of two masters of the lo-fi. David Payne is a member of Fossils whereas Howard Stelzer is known as the man who plays with cassettes in an extraordinary manner (besides running the excellent Intransitive Recordings label). Their LP is the result of an ongoing exchange of cassettes through the mail. These are played on walkmans, memorecorders and four track machines, as to alter the speed on them. All of the results are then layered together into a heavily vibrant piece of noise music. Not exactly the kind of noise music that works with endless streams of feedback and distortion, but a kind of distortion that works on a different level. Field recordings are used, crudely taped onto cassettes, played in strange and unusual manners, electro-acoustic sounds of stuff dropping and falling on the concrete sidewalk and such things alike. A very vivid and imaginative record. Crude but thoughtful noise. Excellent and too short (with some fifteen minutes per side) unfortunately. (FdW) Address:


O.R.D.U.C. - DO (7" by Motok)
My favorite (well, almost) revived electronic band from The Netherlands is O.R.D.U.C., from Nico Selen. Since he's back on track, he's quite active, mainly by releasing new records. Playing live is, I believe, of no interest for him. Last year he released a fresh new 7" called 'Auto' (see Vital Weekly 694), which was followed by an LP called '107' (see Vital Weekly 710). Now there is a new 7" (the previously 7" 'Iron Jubilee' was released in March, but in a very small edition, so perhaps that's why it never made to these pages?) called 'Do', which, if I understand correctly has four tracks from '107', but in a slightly different version and four new tracks. I am not entirely sure about such marketing techniques, but perhaps there is fine reason. While playing this new 7" I was contemplating what it is that I like about the music of O.R.D.U.C. I am not entirely sure about that, but it must be that charming naive character of the songs. Vaguely pop music related, but Selen is not a rock star, will never be. His voice is not made to sign a real song, yet he always sings. That's for sure something I like. His drum machines never sound like a cool rhythm machine from the world of electro music, but not of a very spiky brand. The lyrics do not seem to be about anything in particular, but aren't also abstract poetic matters. More like daily observations. So what is it then that is so captivating? I think I have to come back to my first observation, and that is the sheer naivety, but also utmost pleasure which O.R.D.U.C. uses to create his music. Not exactly that of a professional, or an artist with a deeper meaning, nor the will the change the musical landscape, but just to create eight short, at times sketch like songs. In that sense there is no marketing in here, and O.R.D.U.C. just do what it likes to do, wether that is playing new songs or creating new versions of existing songs. Jolly nice! (FdW) Address:

John Gore is an active guy, with his Oratory Of Divine Love and >wirewall< in slumber mode, but still releasing fine music on his Cohort Records label and his own musical project Kirchenkampf. Whereas with Oratory Of Divine Love he works with radio waves, with Kirchenkampf that goes in combination with synthesizer and sound effects. Over the years his music didn't change that much I must say, but perhaps that is not his intention. On these seven pieces he explores the radio waves, synthesizer and modest sound effects in a very relaxed fashion. Maybe that's where the change is? This new release sounds a lot more mellow than it used to be. In fact, perhaps even the most ambient excursion I encountered from Gore. A highly delicate release, carefully constructed with a few sound elements, music that hides away, stay away and forms the perfect ambient back drop. Dark, mysterious, minimal: all of those common ground places fit this release. And perhaps its not the most 'new' (in an avant-garde sense of the word) releases, Kirchenkampf has produced his best work to date. (FdW) Address:


Both of these men have been reviewed before. Arek Gulbenkoglu had a CD on Impermanent Recordings called 'Point Alone' (see Vital Weekly 492), while Dale Gorfinkel did a CD with Robbie Avenaim on Split Records (see Vital Weekly 616), where they played vibraphone. Here Arek Gulbenkoglu plays snare drum and Gorfinkel vibraphone. Both are active in the improvised music of Australia. They recorded this work in a concert situation, but without being able to see each other. I am not sure how they play their instruments, but I am pretty sure it involves some kind of mechanical devices. There is something distinctly electrical about this release (unless its the buzzing of speakers), which makes that this doesn't sound at all like a vibraphone or a snare drum, especially not as the piece progresses. At the start we may think they do so, but in a nervous, hectic way of playing, but slowly buzzing and sawing comes in and towards the end objects rubbing the surface take over. Quite a vibrant recording at work here, with a direct in your face recording and with a total length of twenty-one minutes an excellent work of improvisation. (FdW)

MUTANT BEATNIKS - TRANSGRESSION (CDR by Institute For Alien Research)
Shaun Robert is the main man of Mutant Beatniks. He hails from Bath (UK), but he recorded this new album 'Transgression' with Dennis Ward (from Cornwall). Robert writes: "Dennis' input is mostly screaming and shouting, tapping and banging things and finding interesting samples. Shaun Robert does everything else - collating, putting together". That may suggest that we are dealing with some product of the industry of noise - type: heavyweight - but that isn't the case. The keyword in Robert's words is 'sampling'. Whatever screaming, shouting, tapping and banging may mean in another context, in this context they are sampled to create vaguely rhythmic music of a more crude nature. Again: not as in the context of noise, but rather in an early Pan(a)sonic sense of the word, without however strong 4/4 beats. Everything is filtered through some synthesizers or computer plug ins, which add that needed glitchy character. Compared with their three previous releases (see Vital Weekly 724, but some where much older), the plunderphonic aspect is largely gone. Everything seems to be 'self-made' as opposed to 'plundered from other sources', which in my book is always good. Overall Mutant Beatniks have progressed quite a lot. Not every track here is great, but throughout this was thumbs up all around. (FdW) Address:

Since reviewing the first two releases by Blindhead (where e a are together and the o has a thingy on its top, but which I learned is a 'd'), see Vital Weekly 621 and 649 I learned some more about the project. Its from somebody whom we shall refer to a S/, from Brussels and who is behind the excellent record label Ini.Itu. Their releases focus on the use of field recordings made in Indonesia. So he has a released an MP3 on Ruidemos and an one side LP for his own label, actually the start of the label. Like on the previous releases, Blindhead uses extensively field recordings, but, and this might be a new feature on the Mystery Sea label, these seem not derived from anything close to the sea. Crackles of wood, human activity (recorded over a great distance it seems, allowing lots of hum as an extra musical source). It continues where the LP left. Lots of acoustic 'rumble', contact microphone stuff and such like, but its all sounding quite mysterious (I see here more mystery than sea). This is due to the fact that the pieces are heavily layered and filtered. Distant rhythms are present in the final piece, but they are a rarity. Throughout an excellent work of field recordings, microsound and ambient, touching at one hand on all the familiar grounds, but Blindhead has enough of its own to make things thoroughly interesting. An excellent release. (FdW) Address:


I wrote this before in these pages: Marcel Herms is an active man and for now he released two CDR's at his own label Anima Mal Nata. His concept is to create music with other musicians and combine his and their sounds together. This concept is not new, but it is mostly interesting how musicians can inspire each other to new musical experiments. The collaboration with the musician Emiel ten Brink from the north of the Netherlands is a very noise one. Emiel ten Brink released before music at the netlabel  Completely Gone Recordings from the United States. For now he created a noise world with Fever Spoor. The two musicians go wild with their noisy spectrum, high pitched sounds, screaming voices and grungy soundlayers complete the not really surprising noise. Only the last track called Schaduwdans (dutch for 'Shadowdance') is different, because of the use of fieldrecordings far away in the background, what gives the composition more space in the narrow blast of noise.
Allan Conroy is active in the music-scene for many many years. A few weeks ago I reviewed the trilogy with Fever Spoor and Not Half. For this CDR they are re-united again and create a beautiful CDR. Part One has 5 tracks and has been made by using reel-to-reel tapeloops and effects which are recorded in a 4-track machine.  The result is an intimate atmosphere with some noisy elements. The compositions are built up quietly and slowly. Part two has three tracks. The basic sounds have been made by Marcel Herms and Allan Conroy edited this material on a computer with Logic. The sounds are more clear and digital, so the soundstructure has become less intimate than the tracks before, but I like how Allan use the multiple possibilities of this program and the compositions have an open structure. The last part are sounds played on a 4-track tape-player at the wrong speed and some minor effects have been added. Some original recordings have been released at Industrial Therapy Unit in 1990. This long track (23 minutes) gives a nostalgic mood by the creative use of tapes. Highly recommended CDR. (Jan-Kees Helms)

The music on this release was already recorded in 1997-98 in Cramond, Edinburgh, then transferred to a digital format in 2006 and re-assembled earlier this year. David Wells is one of the drone guys from the UK, just like say Paul Bradley, Monos, Ora, Colin Potter or Jonathan Coleclough (and no doubt others I can't think of right now). In both versions of this piece, called 'Resolutions A' and 'Resolutions B' (so two versions of the same piece, right?), it seems like he's playing an organ like sound on a keyboard. A kind of digital church organ sound, but with some delay behind it to cloud the sound a bit, but which adds a nice endless sustain to the music. The whole thing is highly minimal, and has a beautiful ringing tone to it. Excellent late night dream music - before or after sleep. Classic ambient drone stuff. Simple and effective. (FdW) Address:


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