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Vital Weekly 752

img  Tobias Fischer

JEAN-CLAUDE ELOY - SHANTI (2CD by Hors Territories)
JEAN-CLAUDE ELOY - GAKU-NO-MICHI (4CD by Hors Territoires)
Was I recently 'complaining' about 3CD sets with music of people I never heard of, I wasn't perhaps thinking of Jean-Claude Eloy. First time around the mailman decided to keep the CDs, but the second time delivered them duly. I hope he likes them as much as I do. I may have heard the name Eloy before, but not his music, or where to place him, these two sets, six discs in total will set the record straight (pun intended). Eloy was born in 1938 and studied with Darius Milhaud. I believe he composes all sorts of work, but his main line of business is electronic music. I review them in order of composition. 'Shanti', which means 'peace', was composed after 'Kamakala' for three orchestra ensembles, five choir ensembles with three conductors, so it was perhaps 'necessary' to compose an electro-acoustic work at the WDR studios in Cologne, Germany. A work of meditation, or so Eloy tells us. Now this is not a work of pure and solitary drone music, as one would perhaps expect from 'meditative music'. They are here, that's for sure, but there is also an interview with Aurobindo and Mao, as well as a small piece called 'Soldats', with soldiers speaking and 'Vagues Lentes, Boucles De Feux', which takes their singing into an electronic landscape. This is of course an album about 'Peace', but rather then just produce a drone or two, Eloy brings in a political element, the soldiers. However the majority are those various drones, played on those ancient machines (great pictures in the booklet here), the mystical oscillators, wave generators and such like - which defy any laptop, I'd say. Excellent music, although not always exactly as meditative as promised, but that, I thought, was hardly a problem. Unsettling meditation, which is better than just go with the flow.
The second disc contains the entire piece is 'Gaku-No-Michi' - the tao of music or the way of music, and is like a fresco, 'a vast poem of sounds and noises, whose main purpose seems to have been the liberation of sound imagination, forever materialized Eloy's withdrawal from the structures and models that had carried him until then'. It was recorded in Tokyo in 1977-1978 and uses, I think, more field recordings than 'Shanti', which had a more pure electronic approach - well, mainly!, although there are large chunks in this almost four hour piece that are also electronic. Off and on I seem to be hearing sounds from Japan, like in the opening pieces 'Pachinko' and 'Tokyo', and voices here and there, bird sounds and street noise. This is a massive sound, immersive all around, which is best enjoyed when played loud. Not because the music is loud, but there are various passages, which are loud and they sound great when the volume is all up, and the softer parts bring out hidden sonorous qualities. I am not qualified to say whether this goes beyond the idea of strict composing - somehow it seems so: an endless stream of sounds and textures, rich in a poetic way, placed along side eachother, sometimes going on for quite a bit (the drone aspect I'd say), which might be against the golden rule book of composing, but who cares? This 4CD can only be compared with, I think, with the re-issue of Roland Kayn's 'Tektra', also a 4CD set and also by somebody whom we almost forgotten about - and probably we did again? Let's hope we don't do that with Eloy and that more of such great music will be released. Devoting an entire day to one composer may seem luxury, but who am I to 'complain'?

(CD by Diplodisc)
Remember Kevin Hewick? Singer-songwriter from the early days of Factory Records and Cherry Red. There has to be an old single of him here somewhere upstairs... I don't know much of his whereabouts of the last few years, but as this CD proves, his voice is still in good shape and just beautiful. Here he works with Alessandro Monti, an Italian musician and composer with his base in Venice. He worked on several records and international projects as a producer and musician, including The Wind Collector with Gigi Masin and Master Cylinder by Caveman Shoestore.
His first album "Unfolk" (2006) combined folk-oriented song structures put in the context of electronic and acoustical environments. "The Venezian Book of the Dead" shows more sides of the talents of Monti. The title of this album refers to a period of industrial disasters that took place in the vinyl factories of Venice in the 70s and 80s when many workers died of cancer. Also the texts - written by Hewick - on this album refer to this catastrophe. The emotional performance of Hewick gives a perfect voice to this tragedy. Like in "Bedroom Discotheque" that has Hewick in a duet with himself. This ambitious project took three years to complete, and it is in all respects a very remarkable album. The album contains 16 tracks. 10 of them are songs, 6 are instrumental ambient-like pieces. All compositions are by Monti, sometimes assisted by others. Monti is also the main performer, playing bass, guitars, (electric) mandolin. All tracks have a sparse instrumentation, with the addition of drums in several tracks, or cello, electronics, etc., all played by others. But at the same time a rich and full spectrum is reached, due to the nice arrangements and excellent recording. The instrumentals are very delicate and tastefully profiled. For example the opening piece "Cicatrice del tempo" has Monti on mandolins, and Gigi Masin is responsible for processing, producing a fine multilayered sound scape with a melodic line by the mandolin on top of it. Bass is another favorite instrument of Monti as is evidenced by a piece as "Someone is always screwing someone" where his melodic playing recalls Peter Hook‚s bass playing. The input of acoustical and electronic means is well-balanced with a clear aesthetic view in mind.
"Natura Distorta" is the exception on this album as it carries not the voice of Hewick but that of Romina Salvadori, an Italian singer of some fame in Italy. Her impressive voice has some mysterious eastern European character. Different atmospheres and musical worlds come together on this 'concept' album. New wave combined with elements from folk, protest songs and carefully designed sound scapes. And all this does not spring retro motivated feelings, evoking supposedly good old days. No, this is a very honest statement that perfectly fits in our times. I play this one over and over. Some of the melodies I cannot get out of my mind. With each listening I discover new details. This one is not to be missed, and I hope this pearl will be noticed by many. The album is mastered by Jon Astley (Led Zeppelin, The Who, etc.). The cd comes in a gatefold cover with a 32 page booklet with English and Italian lyrics. (Dolf Mulder) Address:

Only two weeks ago we discussed the first full length album by Inch-time, also known as Stefan Panczak and hot on those heels follow this remix album of 'The Floating World'. Like I said before, a remix should bring your artist to a new audience. So have Inch-time played by rock bands, or have rock bands remixed by dance artists. That doesn't happen here, unless of course you want to catch the smaller details in dance music as major differences. Inch-time foremost looked for friends from his own scene to deliver remixes, Benge, Isan, Sybarite, Icarus, Spartak, Lord Jim, Tuung, Lake Lustre: that crowd. Maybe its a great idea to surf along with some of your perhaps more known friends, hoping there is someone, say Benge fan, out there, wanting to catch the remix and in the process also the original. I must say I have serious doubts about such marketing technique, but who am I to tell? That said, the album is quite nice. Still along the lines of Static Caravan and Expanding Records, crossing the more intellectual ends of dance music (which probably isn't really dance music then, I mused somewhat rhetorical). Rolling drum machines, melancholy on the keyboards - digitally of course, a bit folk like on the guitar samples and such like. Actually all pretty enjoyable with not particular stand out, and no weak brother in it.
All the way back in Vital Weekly 612 I was exceptionally pleased by a trio called Moira Stewart, who sounded like New Order to me, and that was quite pleasant, if not great! It eludes me a bit why there should be a remix almost three years later, unless its to warm interest again for them, in heavily anticipation of their forthcoming second LP (early 2011). Their remixes, fifteen in total plus an 'intermission' piece, are also found amongst their peers, among which recognize only a few, like Tempelhof, D_RRadio, Dot Tape Dot and Cathode, but also many new names, for me at least, like Keith Canisius, Tranisent, Ok Ikumi Phasmid, Orange Crush, Mood4, Spintronic, Dave Curle, The Matinee Orchestra. Here too we find many small stylistic differences from the world of dance music, with bits of house, dub, krautrock, space pop, ambience and synth doodling, all spiced with more or less fair amounts of rhythm. The nice thing is that the vocals of Moira Stewart is kept alive in many of these pieces, which makes this altogether a pretty vibrant, poppy album, a fine one, but it doesn't match the original and in that respect is much like my beloved New Order: how great they were, I may have never cared that much for all the remixes. And then this lot is probably a lot better! (FdW)


The name Les Fragments De La Nuit was stored in the back of my mind, but couldn't quite place it, but as soon as it started, piano, violin, I remember it was something classical. I went back to the Vital archive and found a review of their previous release, 'Musique De Crepuscule' (Vital Weekly 634), which ended with "A pleasant sunday afternoon disc", and most curious: when I write these words its a cold, October Sunday morning. Ombeline Chardes, Cendrine Mazzucco, Aurore Moutome Miath, Ian-Ellfin Rosiu and Michel Villar are the five members of Les Fragments De La Nuit, and they play violins and piano (Villar). The cover of this (promo) shows them and they look like serious young people and I read they played at Gothik Treffen and Summer Darkness, two gothic festivals, which is all perhaps I rather not know, simply because I don't like gothic, and I rather have this personal image of them with suits and ties and being a very 'normal' quintet. Having said that, the music still lingers on and I must say I still very much enjoy it. Its still all very modern classical (Mertens, Reich, Part), and still has the length of pop songs and that's a bit too short. The odd piece out is 'Allegra Aeternae', which also adds percussion,  choir and horn (sampled perhaps?). Its still a pity that some of these pieces are too brief and perhaps could be work into longer pieces, but throughout its still great on whatever day of the week. (FdW) Address:


It escaped my attention, but 'Failed State Of MInd' is the 25th studio album by Jazkamer, quite an achievement. This year they release an album every month, and this is their October release. Jazkamer is one of the most original voices in noise music, me thinks, and this album, with nine tracks, each lasting three minutes and twenty seconds, is more like an ongoing track, cut into nine smaller pieces. This is a rather mellow release for Jazkamer. Strange, mildly distorted drones from guitars, obscured electronics, recordings from the room next door (bursting out, at one point, in what sounds like rock music), chirping insect sounds. Sometimes forcefully loud, although rarely, and sometimes deceivingly soft. All woven together into a single, great composition of thirty minutes. Now that's what I call intelligent noise! (FdW)


Two new releases on the label that brings us usually some darker than dark music, and in that respect these new releases are prime examples. False Mirror's 'Derelict World' is his third full length album, but I think the first one I hear. False Mirror is one Tobias Hornberger, who uses synthesizers, flutes, bells, gongs, field recordings, foley recordings and software & algorithms. The field recordings come from diverse places, such as a monastery in Ulm or the Arabian Sea. This is ambient written in capitals. Long, endless sustaining sounds, with some field recordings sometimes audible and present, as well as the occasional rising of a gong sound, the flute or a bell. Its dark ambient of course, but not as dark as it could have been. On a color scale, one could say, that this is at times dark fading into grey, and not as pitch black as some of the other Malignant Records releases. For those who like Mathias Grassow, certainly a must have.
'Hidden Fortress' was the first release by Wolfskin, back in 1995 on cassette. There have been four CDs later on and now he calls it a day with his fifth release. On one of his earlier CDs he got help from Anders Peterson, whom we know as Object 4, but who now works as Last Industrial Estate (a fact I wasn't aware of), and for his final release (as Wolfskin, I presume), they work together again. Here too we find ambient music, but albeit of a slightly different nature. It evolves less around those endless sustaining sounds, and more along semi-industrial sounds of metallic rumble, sonic debris and such like. More Isolationist music than pure ambient, this is more experimental in its approach than False Mirror. More nightmare then dreamlike, more late night empty industrial estates than cosmic, and more nuclear than nature, if you get my drift. Best is to play the well orchestrated nightmares of Wolfksin and Last Industrial Estate and follow that up with False Mirror - dim the lights a bit more as the night falls, and its blissed out textures comes to full life. (FdW)


A quartet of new releases on Dekorder display the label's nicer senses of finding interesting new names as well as keeping the old. The old is represented by Campbell Kneale, previously working as Birchville Cat Motel, now trading as Our Love Will Destroy The World. The music also saw some changes, which are even more apparent on this third album under the new guise. Kneale dances the vitus dance here. The five pieces are all evolving around revolving sounds. Hectic, nervous, jumpy, this hardly classifies as 'dance' music. There is a bit of drum computer in here, but not a 4/4 one and there is a total chaos in all these jumpy sounds which are looped together. Occasionally we hear some guitar noise underneath all of this bumping stuff, a vague reminder perhaps of the more droney and noisy days of Kneale. I thought this was a pretty nice record, a decisive step forward (or side-ward is perhaps a better word), and do something new and do that well. This album reminded me of the album Richard Youngs put out on Dekorder: that same wicked sense of rhythm.
The first two 'stunts' by Giuseppe Ielasi were released by his own Schoolmap Records, but the third and final arrives on Dekorder. Like I said when number two arrived, the amazement of Ielasi doing this kind of music is not there any more, perhaps now even more evidently clear with the various releases that he did afterwards, but his own take on turntablism is still great. Ielasi has his own method of using short pieces of sampled scratching, looping and playing of vinyl, much alike that of the hip hop musicians, but less working towards a 'good groove', but more alike plunderphonics. Short blocks of repeating sounds, but, and since I am playing this right after Our Love Will Destroy The World, less chaotic and more open than Kneale does on his record. Ielasi allows space between his sounds, and doesn't lock 'm up like Kneale does. One isn't better than the other: its two different approaches. The 'shock' of Ielasi doing this is gone now, and what remains is a very fine third and final part in this trilogy. It begs for a re-issue on CD.
Carl Calm is not the real name of someone but its Eric Lanham of Caboladies, a band of whom I never heard, but who are 'one of the spearheading groups of a new age/synth revival scene in the USA along with Emeralds and Oneohtrix Point Never […] have been equally influenced by the likes of Fancois Bayle, Gil Melle and Bernard Parmegiani'. The solo music of Lanham is not far away from that of Caboladies, me thinks, upon hearing this work, which was recorded and mixed in two days. This would easily fall into the category of 'new age/synth' music, although it isn't as extensively layered as some of that of his peers Emeralds and Oneohtrix Point Never (whom I didn't hear). The spacious music is rather 'open', like in a field with waving corn. Quite intimate, although 'Adolescent Wavelength 2' sort of takes the relaxed mood apart with a noise based texture. That piece is a bit of a pity, compared with the others, which form a more tight unit. Fans of his band, and of the other two mentioned will be pleased with yet another name on their cosmic sky. Carl Calm does a very job at that too.
Behind Sculpture we find one Dan Hayhurst and Reuben Sutherland. The latter is the man for the visual aspects, using 'home-made zoetropic discs, intricate concentric rings of illustrated frames, projecting fragments of looping images at 33, 45 and 78 rpm - pre-Edisonian imaging technology combined with a digital camera'. Hayhurst is responsible for the music, using found tapes, lo-fi electronics, computer programming and analogue noise. "Imagine Felix Kubin playing dubstep" says Dekorder about this picture disc (play that at any speed and you might have an idea how their concerts look like - great!) and that might be true. It connects the Ielasi record with Our Love: mildly chaotic, highly plundered together from many other sources, but more strictly organized in the end. It has beeps and bleeps from the serious avant-garde, sampled sitars and sounds like tumble weed, all connected together in some form or another. That said, its not that this music would necessarily work well on the dance floor at all, but more adventurous DJs would know what to do with this curious record: spin two copies at any speed and make dozens of new connections. (FdW)


Hoffman's music made it already a lot to the pages of Vital Weekly, and now runs Pilgrim Talk and Ghost & Son as his two labels, originally starting life as the Scissor Death label. Here he works with one Aaron Zarzutkzki, 'who is an improviser of sorts', and this record is their second one, after the first got lost. Zarzutkzki plays a 'disassembled turntable which is used as a kind of spinning wheel to vibrate various objects', whereas Hoffman uses sheet metal and drum machines. Three pieces here, all called 'Grotesque', which I don't completely understand, as these improvisations are quite modest. Modest in volume and modest in the gestures they make. Scratching the surface might be a negative thing to say, but in these pieces they do scratch the surface. Mostly quiet and not very outspoken, save for an Organum like bit on the second side. Largely, it seems, this is an album acoustic sounds. The recordings made not be top notch, but I couldn't work out if that was deliberate play actually. I must admit I quite enjoyed this at times empty piece work. A slow mover, this album, taking its time to get somewhere. Highly improvised but also very experimental, connecting both ends quite nicely. One of the nicest things out of the Hoffman home so far - and not the first great thing he did. (FdW)


No information came along with The Dark Sky Singers release, which is a curious release of seven songs in just over fourteen minutes. Following an intro piece of something that could pass as field recordings, we are treated with six songs of folk like songs, with a male voice. Sweet intimate music with an occasional dark cloud hanging over it. Pleasant guitar moved towards the background, with a nice accordion thrown in here and there, a violin sawing away - mildly, mildly - in a very gentle release. Is this some big band? Or just one man that happens to play a lot of instruments? Ultimately this music is quite far away from Vital Weekly, but its soft character, the unlikeness of these folky tunes make a great break from all things drone, microsound and such like. A small treasure. (FdW)


DEAD GIRL'S PARTY - THE THINGS I'VE LOST (cassette by Entr'acte)
A new duo of Matt Krefting, best known as Son Of Earth, Matt Krefting Band, Idea Fire Company who plays here voice, keyboard, electronics and tapes and Scott Foust (voice, guitar, tapes and radio), best known as the best one color dressed musician, also founding father of Idea Fire Company, XX Committee, The Tobacconists and whole load of more monikers. Dead Girl's Party however is not another extension of drone loaded music known from the other bands, but perhaps a more rockiest outfit that Foust sadly does too little (The Braces was the last one I remember). A lo-fidelity recording of songs! The easiest connection to be made is that of No Wave. Not strict popsongs, but songs that embrace the song structure as well as experiments in sound. Vocals play an all important role, both men singing at the same time, as well as guitar and lush keyboard ornaments, such as in the spacious 'Spin The Wheel'. Now this is something I thoroughly like, and not just because I know Foust pretty well. It combines the best of great post punk rock music, with a healthy dosis of experimental sounds. Damn. Why is this on cassette and not on vinyl? Where does injustice stop and Foust gets the recognition he deserves? Such an unfair world. So, aspiring labels of good music, take notice and listen to this great cassette and make your offers to Dead Girl's Party. (FdW) Address:


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

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