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Vital Weekly 758

img  Tobias Fischer

This is the 8th CD by Bernard Gal, of whom we have reviewed work before, but it seems a long time ago. His most recent, previous one, seems to be 'Installations' (see Vital Weekly 529). Apparently for this new work 'Same Difference' he went back to his long standing interest in instruments from the far east. All of these pieces were created over the last ten years. The booklet details every instruments and ideas behind the pieces. It gives an interesting view of what Gal is doing: say a piece for sheng, zheng and live electronics/sound projection (which sounds very much improvised and couldn't hold the interest for the full twenty minutes), an acoustic guitar piece (where the connection with the far east eludes me, but it sounds wonderful), an electroacoustic composition like 'Xuan Zhuan', which has many layers of singing wines and bowed crotales, and which holds the interest for the full fifteen minutes and pieces for small ensembles. These pieces resemble a more classical approach, even when they involve Eastern instruments. This is not entirely the kind of music I always like very much, but they do sound pretty much alright. 'Utoo' for chamber ensemble sounds great: a dense cloud of sound. Altogether this makes a highly varied CD of mixed pieces. And as such it also makes that I have slightly mixed feelings about this CD. Some of these pieces were great and some less for me. But with nearly eighty minutes of music there is plenty to choose from.  (FdW) Address:


Every CD that drops on this doorstep is inspected and judged: is it for me, or for one of my reviewers, specialized in some genre? With this one I must admit I really had a hard time. The improvisational nature of the Low Frequency Orchestra made me think this would be more suitable for Dolf Mulder's expertise on the subject but there is something quite captivating about this release which made me think about this more myself. The Low Frequency Orchestra is a small ensemble of 'paetzold' recorders, electronic devices, voice, double bass and drums and they team up here with one Wolfgang Mitterer who plays organ. The starting point of this CD is a live recording which has been 'repeatedly revised, de- and re-composed'. Taking into account this and the fact that this is a small ensemble, I was reminded of Mnemonists and Biota, who used similar group playing and extensive studio techniques to define their unique sound. Something of this I recognize in this music, especially in the title piece. It is preceded by five short solo pieces by various members of the orchestra and I am not sure why they are included. They nevertheless sound great, but its 'Mole', lasting thirty minutes which makes this really great. A very vibrant piece of rock music which meets up, as easily, with improvised textures and studio techniques to further alienate the listener. Things happen at considerable speed, with a nice sense of brutality and careful when necessary. An excellent release. (FdW) Address:


The second release of Katapulto is packed in a hand finished black pizza box. The surprise box contains a DVD, a 12? with seven tracks and a CD version of the album. It is also possible to download the tracks as mp3 or  as WAV-file with an extra track. But enough about this. Katapulto is based in Poland and a musical solo project of Wojtek Rusin. The music is full of energy, with nice up-tempo beats, great song-structure, unexpected breaks and nice cut-ups and 80s and 90s synthesizers sounds. Mostly I do not listen to this kind of music, but it catches me directly and reminds me to a band like Arbeid Adelt. The album opens with a catchy melody and rhythm and the song tells about "Adventures in Modern Bathrooms". The "Fake French Rap" is a great parody to rap with well-used sampled french voices which don't rap at all. Pralines of Doom is for now the sunniest moment in these dark days. (Jan-Kees Helms)


A few weeks ago I went to see the Residents show Talking Light in a small local theatre. In fact, the theatre was so small, that only 100 people or so were able to squeeze themselves in. This made sure the atmosphere was one of intimacy. The new show is called Talking Light and is a departure from earlier shows (Demons Dance Alone, Bunny Boy), in that it is less based on a concept. In this new show the Residents (now numbering three) play songs selected from their huge back catalogue, loosely tied together with short video excerpts. This worked certainly on the live show. These days, bands make a lot of money by releasing "exclusive" tour albums. Talking Light, available for sale on the tour, is no exception, save for the fact you can also get this from the official Residents site. Basically a recording of their January 2010 rehearsals (also cutting down recording studio costs) for said tour, Talking Light works rather refreshing. After their slightly disappointing Bunny Boy album/tour, the oddballs re-recorded 11 songs, ranging from late 70s songs like Semolina and Death in Barstow to the more recent Demons Dance Alone and Animal Lover. During their recent tour of America and Europe, these songs were encapsulated in various narrative "ghost/dreams stories" (which are sadly absent from these recordings) featuring strong visual elements in their performance. As such, this album lacks a certain context, which is, however, well made up by the ever-gorgeous and fiercely surrealistic music. Considered by the Residents themselves as an experiment in new directions deviating from recent albums, they will hopefully find it fit one day to release a double album including all the dialogue and incidental music from this most intriguing of shows. (Freek Kinkelaar) Address:


CORRIDORS (CD by Sedimental)
So far I thought of the Sedimental label as a home for atmospherical music from an improvised nature, but these two new releases may proof me wrong. Pleasantly wrong. Wanke, originally from Italy, now in Lisbon, already had a CD on Sedimental, 'Caves' (see Vital Weekly 629) and the new one, 'To R.S.', continues where the previous left of. Not by adding more layers of sound, but rather a bit less and reducing the sound. Four lengthy parts here, fity-three minutes, which seem to flow into eachother. At first a drone of resonating guitar like sound which slowly develops and then slowly other elements are added. Well into the third piece we detect an acoustic guitar being strummed, electronics and maybe a piano being slammed every now and then. It may sound like a harsh thing, but its not. Wanke controls his music to a great extend. The fourth part starts out as a separate entity , it seems, with acoustic sounds being scraped over a surface and some piano, but then moves up an elegant drone piece too. The previous record was a  "very nice record, this one", this one is great!
Behind Corridors we find one Byron Westbrook, who is the technical coordinator for Phill Niblock's Experimental Intermedia Foundation and is something of a specialist when it comes to working with multi-channel speaker installations with live guitar feedback. On his debut CD, following a string of performances. The three pieces (one of them in two parts) were edited from live recordings, i.e. the best moments I gather. Its not just guitar feedback, but also autoharp, a viola, organ and a trumpet can be heard. Or so we are told. The music is wide spread and heavily treated, and makes four great compositions in minimal drone music. It would be hard, if not impossible to avoid the obvious reference to the work of Niblock himself, but it seems that Westbrook's music is a little bit more electronic in origin, and less instrument based. The final composition with the viola perhaps comes closes to the work of Niblock. Throughout I thought this is an excellent CD. Very spacious music of a highly relaxing mood. Tones and textures gliding nicely through your space. (FdW)


The credit for the composition (and thus on the cover) goes out to Alfredo Costa Monteiro, but the instrument, percussion in this case, was played by Pilar Subira. On the cover we read: "Each recording has been edited, cutting the attack, at the point where the impact disappears and the harmonics start, keeping only the natural resonance and decay of the sound." From two hundred recordings these 'beyond attacks' were saved and selected and then slowly build into this one piece of music. It has nothing or at least very little, I guess, to do with percussion music. Only in the final part of the work, say the last ten minutes, one could say that this is a percussive work and rather sounds like a gentle piece of carefully processed sinewaves, except that these are not sine waves nor it is processed in anyway. The acoustic sounds glide in a natural way and over the course of fifty minutes build up in quite a dramatic way, moving from one area to another, constantly changing color and direction. A minimal work but also one of great beauty and perhaps not that minimal, with all the microscopic, detailed changes. An excellent work which can be relaxing or demanding - you can choose your own approach.
Monteiro plays however an instrument himself, the accordion in this particular case of 'Cinq Bruissements'. Recorded already in December 2006, and the cover assures us that all sounds are acoustic, which of course is important to realize. I have no idea what unorthodox methods he uses to play his instrument, but there are times that this thing is like a noise generating box. It has a low, menacing sound at times, and it mixes well with the more upfront acoustic sounds. Maybe Monteiro uses external objects to scratch on the accordion, like at the opening of one side or the other (no label info), or its a radical placing of microphones that gives this sort of effect. Either way it makes a great record, totally unlike 'Aura', but still of great beautiful quality. Quite raw, but at the same time also quite delicate. Both the CD and the LP show entirely different sides to the work of Monteiro and both are simply very good.
Also on Etude Records is a record by Ferran Fages, the guitar player from Spain, who delivered some pretty interesting improvised music in the past. He too gets the sole credit on the front cover, and is indeed responsible for electric and acoustic guitar, melodica, electronics and field recordings, but there is also Lali Barriere who plays guitaret, metallophone and electronics (plus artwork). But the two compositions they perform are written by Fages, so there you go. There is a 'Lullaby Electric' and a 'Lullaby Acoustic'. The electric version is more drone based, with nicely woven, sustaining sounds at the bottom of the piece, over which the guitar strumms away freely (but coherently). With somewhere half way through the metallophone coming, we are almost dealing with a delicate piece of post rock music. The acoustic side doesn't sound as acoustic I'd say, with the first part also quite drone based, and the second part of this piece is more about some lower end bass tones, before landing indeed in that acoustic terrain. An excellent record that should no doubt appeal to anyway who likes post rock, the more melodically edge of improvisation and great craftsmanship. (FdW)


Christopher Tignor is a young composer working and living in the South Bronx in New York. Together with Theo Metz he forms the duo Wires Under Tension. Both musicians played before in the post-rockband Slow Six. The music of Wires Under Tension sounds complex and complete as if a whole band is playing. But that is not true. Theo Metz is a fabulous drummer who creates beautiful beats and breaks. Christopher Tignor completes the composition with his violin and effects with ongoing loops. The music is melodic, experimental, harmonious, expressive and crossing musical borders. For the album Light Science the duo is supported by Marlan Barry, Jared Bell, Roy Femenella, Peter Hess, Phil Rodriguez and Ryan Snow who take care for example the french horn and saxophone. For one moment the music has elements like minimal music composers Steve Reich and Philip Glass. The other moments it is drony and orchestral like Godspeed You Black Emperor. After that it has moments of hip hop and after that music like King Crimson. If you count it like this, it seems to be a mess of all kinds of styles. Unfortunately the music has his own typical sound palette and the album is carefully composed holds the attention of the listener. On their own website they give a look in their way of working and is it even possible to download their musical computer tools by free downloads. A great album of a promising band! (Jan-Kees Helms) Address:


FERGUS KELLY - LONG RANGE (CDR by Room Temperature)
Following his CDR 'Fugitive Pitch' (see Vital Weekly 709) here is another release by Fergus Kelly from Ireland. Like on his previous release he explores textured music, or rather music made with textures. Per track he lists on the cover what kind of sound sources he uses, such as rubber mallets, home drum, coffee whisk, brass rod, spinning top, cymbal and field recording: and that's just the first piece. To me it seems that Kelly made quite a progression since his first release. The pieces are gentle, careful, quiet and introspective. Kelly plucks the strings, uses a bow on sheets of metal, bangs the inside of a piano and uses a small variety of sounds per piece. Sometimes the mood goes up and lots more seem to be happening, such as in the closing piece 'The Ground Beneath Our Feet', with rattling percussion and bowed sounds. Throughout this material shows a great depth and is highly atmospherical. It shows also a variety in his use of instruments and sound sources and makes a truly refined work. (FdW) Address:


COTI - ONDA (CDR by Triple Bath)
The name Daniel Alexander Hignell sounds a like new one to me, but perhaps I came across him before. He's a sound artist when not playing with his 'slightly silly math punk jazz supergroup bygrayvpartynmyrytarm. In his 'Soundscape Study 001', he tries to 'blur the boundaries between two major reflective elements of the soundscape - that of the listener who exists within and contributes to the soundscape on a continual basis, and that of the visitor, the passing critic who appreciates and contributes only momentarily to the sound world he/she is absorbing." To that end Hignell visited a small village in France and composed five pieces out of that sound material and also five were made from a recordings made in a village in Scotland. He listens not as a composer but as a visitor to the place, although I am not sure what the difference is. Also I am likewise unsure to what extend Hignell actually composed the piece, or wether they are cut outs from 'reality' - the information seems to be hinting towards the latter. In the French village Hignell seems to be concentrating on sounds from rural life, far, wide open shots of sound, whereas in the Scotland pieces, he seems to be more interests in closed sound events, like sounds filtering through pipes and such like. Its actually quite interesting to hear all of this, even without knowing how it was made exactly.
Behind Coti we find Constatino Luca Rolando Kiriakos, who somethings works as Coti K, and who was a member of electronic band in Greece. These days he plays the contra-bass and as such has established a connection with Nikos Veliotis and Ilios in a trio called Mohammed. On 'Onda' he plays solely electric contra-bass. Seven pieces, ranging somewhere between four and ten minutes. Onda, 'wave' in Italian (where he was born), is an album of layered contra-bass sounds. This means, to put things bluntly, drone like music, but not through masses field of sound, but through various textures, some light, some dark, and almost always seems to be floating gently down the stream. Occasionally there is a classical feel to the music, and sometimes Coti makes things a bit more abstract. Microphones are wide open, and capture much of the space in which the music was recorded. It also makes that the music is quite upfront and present, like direct in your face. Very nice. (FdW)


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