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Vital Weekly 753

img  Tobias Fischer

Germany's Schraum label has established itself as a small but fine catalogue of improvised music. Somehow they manage to find all those people I never heard of, like on this eleventh release Nils Ostendorf (trumpet), Philippe Lauzier (bass clarinet, saxophones) and Philip Zoubek (prepared piano). All of them were born in 1977 and 1978 and have extensive lists with whom they all played. Last year they recorded this work in Cologne and it was edited down to seven pieces, spanning forty minutes of improvised music. Its not easy to say which sounds is generated by whom here. Which is something I actually thought was great. The sounds bubble up from below, and none of them sound like the sound of the instrument they are holding in their hands. Lots of scraping like sounds, with quite some sustain to them, almost like drone music in 'Dreaming On A Cargo'. But they also work more common ground, with a great sense of interaction, leaving silence when necessary and adding sounds when needed. In 'Hyperlinking' even a small melody pops up in a great Cage like manner. This trio plays some great lush improvised music with beautiful ringing overtones. Excellent. (FdW) Address:

The man behind Presto!? is Lorenzo Senni, who started the label a few years ago, but dislocated his first release on Keshhhhh. That was 'Early Works', a collection of 'old' pieces (see Vital Weekly 654), in Mego styled tradition. He's still quite young, but he has explored computer music quite well, so 'Dunno' is his first real, up-to-date record, entirely crafted in the world of computers. While it still has the power of the older Mego releases, Senni doesn't rely entirely on the world of noise for this one. In a curious way he connects the computer noise of Now, with the more serious academic electronic from a few decades ago. I am reminded of the work released by Marcus Schmickler (who mastered the Senni disc) 'Alters Of Science' on Mego (see Vital Weekly 596), which had a similar approach to computer music. Also the work of Evol might come close to this. Quite radical music but totally listenable. Refined brutality at work here. Very abstract and definitely not easy listening. A major leap forward for him, as well as the world of noise. (FdW) Address:


ANBB - MIMIKRY (CD by Raster-Noton)
Behind ANBB we find a collaboration of Blixa Bargeld (best known as singer of Einsturzende Neubauten and guitarist for Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds) and Alva Noto. I already heard about this, and raised an eye-brow, or two. Why on earth would mister digital clean work with mister dirty? What would it bring? Or, and perhaps I'm just an (old) cynic, is to boost a career here and there, even a bigger boost than either of them probably don't need, seeing their high profiles. I must admit I was never a big fan of the Neubauten, although I still like to play 'Kollaps' every now and then, and started with some suspicion to play this. I must I am actually quite pleased with it. It bridges the gap between the clean cut beats of Noto and the 'pop' of Neubauten, both are there, but crossing over. Bargeld's singing is more like reading poetry, while Noto's music is less clear cut, more gritty and dirty. And some of these pieces show that Noto is capable of playing popmusic, such as in the short ballad like 'One' (a cover from Harry Nilsson), which is a prize winner, in the furious 'Once Again' or in the mild 'I Wish I Was A Mole In The Ground'. Voices are layered at times, making it more dense and more sinister, full of pain, just as one would probably expect from Bargeld. This all seems to me a genuine collaboration, and not one for the cash or the fame, so whatever I was thinking was wrong. This is actually a great record. Great dark matter of intelligent pop music. The best of both worlds. (FdW)


Earlier this year I had the pleasure of reviewing a release from Malaysian-based label M¸-Nest. It was the sweet "electropop meets postrock"-album "The Fabric" from U.S.-composer [Post-foetus]. Now it is time for another one from the label that focus on as the describes itself "melodious & sweet-sounding electro-acoustic tunes." - a description that fits perfectly to the sound this new release "Telescope" from japanese artist Okamotonoriaki. The artist is an Osaka-born audio-visual artist based in Tokyo, who has won several prizes for his works. Listening to the "Telescope"-album, you understand why the composer has been awarded. The composer operates in beautiful sound spheres of cinematic, imaginative electronica combined with inter-weaving piano lines and warm synth-lines. An important element is the gentle drumbeats added to the textures. The gentle electronica-expression on "Telescope" reminds me a lot of the style often connected to Japanese label Symbolic Interaction and the result is equally as impressive. Highly recommended! (Niels Mark)


Behind the project Filterwolf, you find Bosnian composer Adnan Duric. Before this debut full-length, the now Munich-based artist has released a few EPs and 12"s, first of all on the same label being responsible for this latest release, Process Recordings. Based in the UK, Process Recordings aims to release cutting edge music of the electronic scene, and present album titled "Music from tomorrow" is no exception on that purpose. Before this album, Filterwolf has composed soundtracks for films and animations. "Music from tomorrow" blends eastern sound cultures with first of all upbeat electronics often club-like in expression. There is a futurist atmosphere first of all thanks to the electro-like sound expressions sometimes reminiscent of late Kraftwerk. An interesting album, which will unquestionably appeal to any listeners of tech-house and similar. (Niels Mark) Address:


RV PAINTINGS - SAMOA PAINTINGS (LP by The Helen Scarsdale Agency)
Two brothers, Brian and Jon Pyle are behind RV Paintings and hail from Hunbold County, California, home of redwood trees and marijuana. Bryan Pyle is also a member of Starving Weirdos and solo known as Ensemble Economique. The brothers jam about about to start with and then edit these out into fixed compositions. They use guitars and effects, I believe, and if I am to believe the press text, also flutes and strings. The recording quality doesn't seem to be something that they care about that much, or perhaps its just the pressing that is not that great? It moves into slight distortion which doesn't justify the music. Unlike many of the previous releases by The Helen Scarsdale Agency, this is drone music of a somewhat different branding. More improvised, more loosely played also,  these drone based textures are a bit crude and bending the idea of static drone music, with its metallic scraping and reverb effects in the background. A bit like a toned down 'In Extremis' by Organum, with the addition of field recordings, buzzing effects and other obscured sonic debris. A bit more raw than is usual, and that surely marks a fine difference. Because its not top perfect, all the more nice. (FdW) Address:


STELZER & TALBOT - RECENT WORK (CDR by Songs From Under The Floorboards)
VIC RAWLINGS & HOWARD STELZER - BY MY SIDE, I'M YOURS (CDR by Songs From Under The Floorboards)
OPHIBRE - PHASE PLANE CAKE DECORATOR  (CDR by Songs From Under The Floorboards)
BRUME - DRAFT OF CONFUSION (CDR by Songs From Under The Floorboards)
Songs From Under The Floorboards is a new sub division of Intransitive Recordings, specializing in small run CDR releases, all in jewel cases with nice full color artwork. Some of these works are older, returning from under the floor boards perhaps, and some are new. Let's start with something old, which is oddly called 'Recent Work'. Its a re-issue of a release on RRRecords by Jason Talbot and Howard Stelzer (the latter the one who crawls under the floorboards to dig up such releases) from a 2002 recording and back in Vital Weekly 367 I wrote: "It's good to see the return of a highly respectable label that brought us so many noise and related records, tapes and CD's. RRRecords are back! And they stepped into doing CDRRR's. One of the first is a lovely lovely recording of Jason Talbot and Howard Stelzer, taped during their April 2001 tour in the USA. Jason Talbot plays a turntable, sometimes conventionally spinning a record, scratching it, but he also uses the pick up to amplify a balloon or screwdrivers. Howard is also on the analogue music side playing cassettes through a whole bunch of old walkmans, upon sheets of metal and through a distortion pedal. Maybe you except a whole bunch of noise, but not so. Occasionally there are bursts of noise, oh yes, but these two guys play very well the dynamic card. Soft parts, loud parts, noise bursts and occasional sounds are presented here in this excellent live recording. I happen to see a couple of their shows, and everything they do is planned, these are real songs (despite the silly titles). I heard someone calling this analog glitch, might be so. I think it's musique concrete in a very pure form. And europeans around: they play on january 31st at Extrapool in Nijmegen, The Netherlands." That was a great concert and somewhere shortly after that review the two parted way, but they are together again, playing concerts again, and this is a friendly reminder of that great duo.
Another duo, also with Howard Stelzer on cassettes is with Vic Rawlings, who is a well-known figure from the Boston improvisation scene playing cello and circuit bend electronics. The recordings on this album were already done six years ago, but for whatever reason never released. Rawlings and Stelzer had already played a lot of concerts back then, but this album is a not a registration of these concerts. In stead the two did a two day session and later on edit them into the pieces on this release. But then a release never happened, and now its here. Of course the all important question might be: does it sound dated? The good news is: it doesn't. One could argue then that probably not much news happens in the world of improvisation (which I leave for others to discuss), but the album sounds pretty good. Lots of silence (now that might be a bit outdated come to think of it), which are then spliced out with pieces of rapid movements, together or alone. Both Stelzer and Rawling take turns in letting their material breathe, take shape and gentle move away. Or pull out together, a stroke of noise, like painting flying around, smeared on the canvas. A wild affair, but perhaps a bit on the long side too, with fifty minutes of intense listening.
Kuwayama Kiyoharu has had releases on the main label, Intransitive, before, usually as Lethe, but here comes up with a duo recording with alto saxophone player Masayoshi Urabe, known from his work with Kosoukuya, Junko, Hiroshi Hasegawa (Astro, CCCC), Kan Mikami and Chie Mukai. Kuwayama plays cello, saxophone and metal chains. The music was recorded in the old warehouse space in Nagoya which Kuwayama has at his disposal and which has great reverb to it. They recorded this work in October 2003, no doubt in 'one go'. The sound is cavernous and, unlike many of the Lethe recordings, quite full of sound. The saxophone is dominating feature here, and blows about in a forcefully way. Its not the kind of saxophone playing I like very much I must admit. Whatever Kuwayama adds is a bit unclear, as the moments on cello and chains seem rather 'reduced' here. A totally free (jazz) work, that is nice, but not entirely convincing.
No date is mentioned on the Ophibre release. Ophibre has had works before, that were mostly puzzling, to say the least. Ophibre, we now learn is Benjamin Rossignol, who, years "was participating in medical studies to get by" and as such got to learn the MRI machine and he "started hearing other sounds above the magnet… sounds that complimented the terrifically terrible drone of the big magnet", something which he tries to capture on these recordings. The title piece is a heavy drone piece of sounds played through the element of a guitar, or perhaps using the whole body of the guitar, shaking and rumbling it. Nice but perhaps not necessary for the entire fourteen some minutes. The other three pieces explore a similar territory, but in a much more quieter manner, which I think is much better, and which reminds me of some of the other music I heard from him. Monolithic rumble music might be best description. On the surface it seems not a lot is happening, but deep down, behind the cracks, things move solemnly ahead, with some variations. Like insects crawling all over the space.
I am not sure why C. Renou returned to his moniker Brume, after a few years of releases under his own name. Maybe he's reversing the trend of stop using band names? The piece he presents here was recorded for an installation for erstwhile Vital Weekly reviewer TJ Norris from 2008. All this changing of names made it hard for me to follow his musical development. As Brume he was known for using cut-up techniques and the no-sampler approach of musique concrete/electro-acoustic music. As C. Renou he, perhaps, worked with more sustaining sounds, drone like figures and, again perhaps, with samplers. Yet this particular new Brume work sounds exactly like the 'old' (read: recent) Renou works. Lots of 'long' form sound, of sources unknown (well, in some ways I think it uses voice material, extremely slowed down and/or in real time) and perhaps computer editing. Maybe that confuses me a bit, but then I realize none of that really matters of course, its the end result that counts and that is pretty good, if perhaps a bit long. If you like the releases by say Helen Scardale, this is entirely up your alley too. (FdW) Address:


For Noise's Sake is a label which is based in Madrid-Spain and releases music with a wide diversity in a limited edition. Expensive Shit is a band from Austin, Texas and consists of five members and a guest musician. They do not practice and play anywhere they want. A previous jam-session was already released by Not for Fun. The session exists of lots of feedback sounds which are created by guitars and far away in the background you can hear some drums. After a while there is more variety in sounds and the beats became stronger. On this record a lot of guitar noise and if you like it - just go for it in this 19 minutes long session.
And for now something completely different? Donhince is also located at Madrid and combines noise with techno and big beats. Five compositions will fill the experimental dance floor and you can flow on the mighty beats, strong noises and well-structure wall of dancenoise. Really a good album.
Scissor Shock is a project of Adam Cooley from Columbus, Indiana and releases music since 2003. The music on the album "Psychic Existentialist" can be described as Frank Zappa full speed forward. Thirteen songs, varying from extremely short (twenty-three seconds) to about nine minutes fill the album. The musician experiments a lot with guitar, voice, synthesizer, drummachine and more. It is a kind of free-jazz, rock with weirdo combinations and structures, humor and an excellent feeling of timing. For me this album is a great surprise! (Jan-Kees Helms)


TOTAL BLACKOUT (cassette compilation by Afe Records)
The approach of this compilation is quite nice: ask musicians to create music without 'using any electrically-powered source/instrument, just like they were experiencing a real black out situation', and we are left in the dark too. There is no tracklist and each tape (limited to 47 copies) is copied in a random/shuffle mode. So if I wanted to write that say Rinus van Alebeek's piece is great, I couldn't. Or if Andrea Marutti's track sucks, I couldn't either. Even more: if I would write that the first ten minutes on the b-side is great, you couldn't verify that: your copy might be different. A true black out indeed. The 'unplugged' approach relates to field recordings here, which I think is cheating the idea. Field recordings are always unplugged, me thinks. The best pieces are those that use any kind of sound that is acoustic, the voice/poetry bits, or the use/abuse of acoustic objects. Interesting stuff, difficult to review. It may have tracks by Aal, Andrea Marutti, Carlo Giordani, Crashcars For The Ravers, Fhievel & luca Sigurta, Madama P, Rinus van Alebeek and Vale. Perhaps in an order of some kind. Maybe not. (FdW) Address:


DEVIS DEVILS - D (cassette by Collezione Del Silenzio)
AB'SHE - G (cassette by Collezione Del Silenzio)
MAUTHAUSEN ORCHESTRA - M (cassette by Collezione Del Silenzio)
UNDER THE SNOW - W (cassette by Collezione Del Silenzio)
MAURIZIO BIANCHI - Y (cassette by Collezione Del Silenzio)
ANDREA MARUTTI - Z (cassette by Collezione Del Silenzio)
Italy's answer to the Zelphabet series (which is a series of compilation CDs with musicians from the world of noise - in its extended meaning - grouped together with the beginning letter of their name), is a series of 26 cassettes, each with one band or person. I am not sure why one band or person is connected to a particular letter, but its not Maurizio Bianchi at the 'M' or the 'B'. So I received six of the twenty-six, and let's start with the 'D', ah, which is by Devis Devils, of whom I never heard. The series is subtitled 'Free Interpretations Of Silent Sounds' and along with 'silentes tapestry' - 'white series' and the website of this subdivision from Silentes, there is no other information. Maybe I expected some sort of extended remix series of silent music, but Devis Devils is no such thing. They use rhythm machines and samplers to create rhythmic music, but a dancing crowd is not their goal. The music is not always worked out well, and it seems to me that this is, altogether, a sketch like affair. Start of songs, rather than songs. Maybe its because a tracklist is missing that there is something to guess. Not entirely my cup, but the b-side, which seemed a bit more ambient, was quite alright.
'G' is made by Ab'she, another unknown entity, and they/he/she also start out with rhythm. Rather slow, with some synthesizers humming darkly underneath. Again no track titles, but I assume that both sides should be seen as one track - lasting around fifteen or so minutes, building slowly up from small chunks of rhythm, adding more along the road and also gathering more ornaments, i.e. more synthesizers and such like. Here too, on both pieces (?), the tempo is slow, and not really dance-like. Maybe like a moody Pan Sonic piece in a way, but then extended to that fifteen minutes (if it is, you never really know if its on cassette, do you). Nicer than Devis Devils, I thought, with a better worked out idea for compositions.
Recently we noted the return of Mauthausen Orchestra, also on Silentes (with a CD actually). Now there is also this cassette, and I am not sure if this cassette is an old or a new work. I think, judging by its contents, a new one, as it has, I think, similarities with 'Digression', the CD of late (Vital Weekly 750). This tape seems to be a bit shorter (c20 or c25) and has that similar cut-up synth music as the CD. Some keys are pressed down, a setting changed, a few sound effects pushed through the floor. Not really the power noise of yesteryear, but it has that crudeness that one associates with noise, without being that noisy, even when the b-side attempts at doing so. Does that sound vague? It's throughout actually a nice tape, with the b-side again the most coherent effort of the reformed Orchestra so far.
Under The Snow, also a new name for me. So we had two bits of rhythm, one chunk of noise and with Under The Snow the ambient/drone music leaps in. A cheap organ like sound sets the ball rolling on side A. It sounds a bit cheap at the beginning but when it rolls, the whole thing gets more and more depth. More sounds are added, computerized processings of kind or another, and on the second side even a bit of looped sounds (to avoid the word 'rhythm') of bell like sounds. Here too, again, the b-side is the best. In fact this is a great piece of music.
Old master Maurizio Bianchi is on 'Y'. With him you never know if its an old work or a new work (certainly when there is no additional information), or, when its a new one, if he worked on it himself (or Siegmar Fricke, his favorite collaborator in his new phase). But having heard quite a bit of Maurizio's music over the last twenty-five years I assume this is either an old work, or something based on 'old' sounds. A crudely cut reel-to-reel tape of static radio sounds, with a skip of the cello tape that holds it together, is fed through a bunch of sound effects, or maybe even a synth. Maybe not, actually. Maybe its just a bunch of tape-loops. An effective set of industrial music, harking back to his early days as Sacher Pelz. At thirty minutes also carrying the right length for such music, I think. Nice noise.
Andrea Marutti is also something of a legend from the experimental/electronic music from Italy, whose work is mainly to be found in 'ambient' and 'drone', but he dabbles in various aspects of that. So it can be either softly humming or be more upfront. For 'Z' he chooses both. On the first side we find something, also based, it seems, around a loop of some kind that swirls around, captured in a system of sustaining feedback sampling machines. A sort of powerful drone music and the b-side is filled with a low end rumble of sonic debris, gently yet dark flowing about. Both sides are total opposites of eachother, but both are equally good. (FdW)


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