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Vital Weekly 759

img  Tobias Fischer

BAZOOKA - 1980-1984 PLUS (2CD by Infrastition)
COITUS INT - 1980-1982 (CD by Infrastation)
Following the two great re-issues of local heroes Mekanik Kommando, here is another one, or two. But one of them is a local hero too. Bazooka, together with Vice (who is putting their catalogue on CD?), Das Wesen (already received their CD on the same Infrastition label) and Mekanik Kommando, had a relationship with the other bands, running their own label to avoid being cut on welfare and taxes. We are talking here the ever so great 80s. That is of course if you would avoid cliche's about cold war, nuclear arms and other doomsday thinking. The 80s were great. Nobody had money and everybody made music. Some still do. Bazooka started out of the Vloojentheater, recorded quickly a 12" single with six pieces. All sung in dutch, although not easy to understand (thank God I thought back then and still do so), the music was remarkable. Free form new wave/rock music with a great drive. A good and strange point of departure, since Theo Hoek, the main man behind Bazooka, wanted to experiment with form. Their second 12" was called 'A Igor S', meaning of course dedicated to Igor Stravinsky, experimenting with poly rhythms, like Igor, but then as performed by rock band. The great power of Bazooka however are the two LPs they made afterwards, 'Zwevende Vlakken' and 'De Platte Pet', which don't sound like anything you may have heard before. Still in rock line up but singing like Gregorian monks did, solemnly, multi-layered voices. Complex in rhythm, and, no doubt in composition, these two albums contain some remarkable music. The rock band playing complex, almost classical music, but not in some fast math rock like manner, but slow, with lots of changes and solemn singing, wordless or, perhaps, just words. Hardly popular music then and now, not the average post punk/cold wave band, but one of true importance (I might be biased here). And that was the end? Not yet. In 2002 Bazooka reformed to play a concert, in an extended line-up (in which I recognized my old class mate Pieter Klaassen, and in fact the only time I saw Bazooka live), with the addition of sax, trombone, marimba, trombone besides the usual rock line up. They performed the 'Bazooka Suite', taking the original songs and present them in a more classical context. The recording could have been better, I thought, certainly when compared to the rest of this set, but then who knew that the gods would have been merciful and present this lovely gift of the entire back catalogue on a double CD with this as a bonus? Who am I to complain? This re-issue is perfect, as its complete (something I miss out in some of re-issues of Les Temps Modernes for instance) and sheds a great light on a remarkable band, who went complete besides fashion and style. Not greatly understood in the past, but hopefully these days a lot better. Theo Hoek still is a composer, but of serious classical music - in case you wonder. If you buy this from the label directly - and that's something I always strongly recommend - you can get a DVD with video clips and an excellent documentary by Bas Andriessen about Bazooka from this year.
In those very early days of record buying, I acquired a fair amount of independently Dutch punk records, and would collect label catalogues. One of those labels was from Utrecht and called Rock Against Records, with such great bands as The Nixe and the Lullabies. Back then I thought 'Dead Excitement' of Coitus Int as a great one, but hardly 'real punk' (whatever that may be). Coitus Int sounded more like Joy Division, era Warsaw, but slower and more intense. I as curious enough to also get their debut LP. Both the first 7" and the first LP are gathered here on this CD, along with their side of a split tape I never, with local punk band Local Negatives. You could think I made this up, but in fact their first LP I once transferred to a scratchy MP3 for my Ipod, so its hardly a surprise I still know most of the songs (shamefully I must admit I never did this for the Bazooka records), and the sheer desolation of the music still stands firmly. The 7" sounds, in retrospect perhaps the most punk like, whereas on the LP the influence of Warsaw/Joy Division (especially in the garage like production, this band had no Martin Hannett) and early Gang Of Four is more apparent, and shows a quick maturing. Oh those days of despair. Beautiful suffering. The three tracks from the cassette, dating post-LP, shows them in an even more mature form, better control of instruments (although their older work has a great charm, just because of that precious lack) and a promise for the future. But that future wasn't fulfilled. Coitus Int made two more records which involved lots of saxophone playing on 'Sex For The Wealthy', and unfortunately don't stand up to their early standard. I am not sure if Infrastition will touch those, but for me its not necessary. This collection, greatly remastered and sounding afresh is just perfect too. Excellent work on both accounts, long live the French and shame on the Dutch for ignoring such excellent pieces of musical histoire. Address:


audiophob is a small label from Germany and they release industrial ambient music. Skalpell is a duo from Switzerland and consists of Harald Weissen and Henry Favretto. They have been active since 1995 and for five years ago Skalpell released their last music. The CD "Nothing to tell so far" contains seven compositions with a diversity of styles. The album starts with a dark ambient piece of music with open sounds. A nice entrance of the dark moods of Skalpell. The second one is also ambient, but has more industrial elements in the music by the use of metals and tribal beats. The album becomes more dark and abstract until the strong heartbeat become a dominant part of music. Ebola 3 starts with the sound of a humming cat and develops into a noisy track. Outbound is real noisy floorfiller with heavy beats and high pitched tones with some white noise. The album ends with some electronic noise and become more and more quiet and minimal. Skalpell takes five years to create a new album and it is worth waiting. (Jan-Kees Helms) Address:


Belgium's Ini.Itu label slowly builds a small catalogue of LP sized vinyl, always in an edition of 250 copies and always dealing with sounds from the far East, usually Indonesia, but in the case of Dave Phillips, field recordings from Thailand and Vietnam. Hesse-Honegger is a visual artist who did the cover and the insert that comes with the record. Phillips created the music solely from field recordings and has crafted two pieces, one per side, of great beauty. Somehow I think its a bit unlike his previous work. The sound is still quite upfront and present, like in much of his work, but there is not sense of rapid sound collaging and montage. The collage happens in the form of using many layers of sound, in which sounds are moved in and out of the mix. Lots of animal sounds, but also, perhaps, those of human activity. To that it seems Phillips also a bit of electronics, to juxtapose certain elements or to craft a drone like element that occurs at irregular intervals. An excellent, well crafted album of nicely treated field recordings.
On an entirely different nature is the album by Laurent Peter, finally we have a name for D'Incise from Switzerland, who received slighty similar sound material as Francisco Lopez did for his album for this label (see Vital Weekly 711), but Peter does something completely different with it. His main method is sampling the hell out of anything. It perhaps also reveals a bit more what Lopez used, as that was rather a mystery back then. Percussive sounds from Indonesia for instance, which D'Incise explores these for the lowest, grainy textures, chopped up to form new rhythms, cut from 'real' sound and the hiss between. Ini.itu compares this with some of the older and more experimental releases on Mille Plateaux/Ritornell, and I can see that. It shares that somewhat crude approach to sampling, the click 'n cut approach musicians like Random Inc and Kid606 had back then, but D'Incise never comes close to playing any 'dance' related music. The textures are sometimes pretty 'vague', shimmering perhaps, but I think that kind of adds nicely to the record. Its probably the best record by D'Incise I heard so far. The compositions are worked out better, and never seem to take more time than necessary. Very nice. Two entirely different records, twice good. (FdW) Address:

YELLOW6 - IN TIME THIS TOO WILL FADE (LP by Tonefloat Records)
STEVEN WILSON - TAPE EXPERIMENTS 1985/1986 (LP by Tonefloat Records)
So I haven't following Jon Attwood's music as Yellow6 for ever, but whenever I hear it I must I quite like it. And I couldn't say where we find this particular album in the light of his career. I do know what is pressed here in clear vinyl (but with an excellent sound) is great. The guitar is the main instrument and the first half of side A is spend in a slow build up. A tinkling guitar gets doubled, tripped and so on, until it then moves into a more heavy weight guitar drone. Folk at the beginning meets metal at the end, or something like that. Think Fear Falls Burning I guess - if I wouldn't be looking at the cover, I would perhaps all too easily think its Fear Falls Burning actually. The b-side starts out with a more rock like strumming - sans drums of course, but with a shimmering loop of some kind - but it stays on a gentle minimalist way. The second track starts out a bit more darker than the previous and stays there. Shimmering tones of a dark solo guitar, playing carefully a few notes and covered with a decent amount of reverb. Great twilight music. The b-side is darker and gentle, the a-side a bit more heavy weight. Excellent.
Likewise I must admit I didn't keep up with the entire of Steven Wilson, or rather I try to keep up with just one aspect, his solo outing Bass Communion. I know he's famous for his work with Porcupine Tree but perhaps that is not so much my cup of tea. And then there are tons of other things he does (I once glanced at his discography, but the 500+ pages made me a bit dizzy). But just as everybody he also started one day, and since I am not 'there' from the early days, but I know he started to play around with a four track recorder build by his father. Some of these early experiments are now released on LP (which I guess is another advantage of being famous). The inner cover details every track, as for instruments and when these tracks were further used in later work and such like. But without any or much anyway knowledge of later work of Steven Wilson, I must admit these early works are great. Wilson is not a noise kid banging around, but even in these earliest works he displays a great musical sense. Harmonic pieces on guitars and Farfisa organs, a short collage piece in the best tradition of musique concrete and a piece for multi-layered voices. All in quite an experimental vein, and one hardly could think this as 'simple' two or four track recordings. These pieces already show the great musicianship of Wilson, an excellent archival release.


Two releases by Dirk Serries. One as himself, his most recent incarnation and as Fear Falls Burning. I must admit its not easy to pin down the differences between the two names. Perhaps we can say that Fear Falls Burning is a bit more heavy when it comes to concluding a musical piece, and as Serries the pieces are gentle throughout. That's at least what I gather from the various times I saw him play live, both as Fear Falls Burning and as Dirk Serries. On 'Microphonics XIV', a live recording made in Ghent, Belgium, shows his excellent feel to play a fine piece of weightless, textured, atmospheric music. On his guitar he plays a few notes, which get locked into a looping device, and every now and then Serries adds a slight new stroke of sound paint to the canvas, and by doing so he also removes one, so that the canvas is never 'full'. A dreamlike sound, meditative, solemn and gentle music. Maybe one could say also: hovering damn close the world of new age. Its not that far (yet), but I can imagine one day Serries' music will. In his 'Microphonics' series Serries comes close to the music of Robert Fripp (solo), and its probably too dark (still?) to be fully accepted as new age music. Its however excellent music, and the label is right: "only hearing serries play live comes closer to the microphonics experience than this lp".
The 7", I must admit, doesn't strike me as the right format Fear Falls Burning. The compositions Serries plays (in any old or new guise) need their time to develop, and two times, say, five minutes is just not enough. But for the occasion Serries dug up two short recordings of him playing guitar, more loud than on 'Microphonics' series (which proofs my point I guess about the differences), of multi-layered, sligthy distorted guitar playing. The vinyl - transparent with red splatters - isn't of the best quality, but it adds surely a bit of extra distortion to the process. Surely nice enough, but I rather have a complete, longer, piece. (FdW)


O.R.D.U.C. - IRON JUBILEE (7" by New Bulwark Records & Tapes)
In April 1982 Dutch magazine Vinyl (about 'modern music') ran a long article on cassettes in The Netherlands, including a catalogue of all the labels working with them. Under New Bulwark Records & Tapes we read that the first anniversary will be celebrated with a release called 'Iron Jubilee': a poster, a C60 cassette, a book, a button and a series of stickers. It never materialized for some obscure reason. But now it did, albeit in a slightly different form: 'just' a 7". Six tracks, all recorded in the first year and released on three albums: 'Pink & Purple' (LP), Fast Forward (a cassette compilation from Australia) and 'New Cubism' (cassette). From the 'Pink & Purple' LP the two tracks were remixed and sound 'fuller' than I remember. Nico Selen will never be a great singer, but there is a charming naivety to these songs. The other four songs are instrumental and have a nice, likewise charming naivety to them. Guitars, rhythm machines and synthesizers make up a poppy cosmic sound, krautrock like. I must admit I am quite a sucker for this kind of music. As a 7" perhaps way too short, but I hear of plans to release LP versions of some of the older cassettes. I can't wait. (FdW) Address:


An interesting 7" of six short collaborative tracks by one Micheal Esposito (whom we remember from a CD on Firework Records) and Kevin Drumm, who seems to have been quiet for some time. The music deals with field recordings made in St. John - St. Joseph cemetery, Hammond, IN, along with found noise and guitars. Not a heavy onslaught of noise bursts, but carefully constructed lo-fi electronics floating around, gathered around in small loops, hissy electronics and a bunch of guitar sounds. There is also some Electronic Voice Phenomenon gathered here to add that creepy, late night cemetery feeling. An excellent 7", but albeit too short. This should have been a 10" at least! (FdW) Address:


Back in Vital Weekly 593 I first heard the music by Surface Hoar and I didn't know much about the project. Now I've learned that its the one man project of Matthew Amundsen, who played back in Athens, Georgia with bands as The Lost Man, Audiophonix and The Marble Index. Now he lives in Knoxville, Tennessee. Its now clear which instrument he played but as Surface Hoar, I guess its the sampler along with various types of tape manipulations. Thematically, 'Streetwalker' deals with 'haunted locals and ghostly events in historic Charleston, South Carolina. Sampled voices, which mumble texts we no longer comprehend, which could be lifted from horror movies for all I know, along with creepy textured music of a likewise unknown origin. Six tracks in total of indeed a nocturnal quality. Perhaps its because I know now, but indeed a nineteenth century dark alley, with a few gaslamps showing the face of a Yorkshire ripper like killer being chased by the good cop. Quite raw in the way the music is worked, but not in a noise sense, more in terms of composition. Very nice. (FdW)


TERTIUM QUID (CDR by Finite Material Context)
From what I gather from the cover is that Tertium Quid is a trio of guitarist Bill Horist, percussion (as well as radio and objects) player Dave Abramson and the guitar and laptop of Daniel Burke, the latter of course best known for his work with Illusion Of Safety. Since starting to play in 2007 they played two gigs together. I am not sure if the recording here, realized on February 1st and 2nd 2008 at Gravelvoice Studio in Seattle is one of them, but no doubt its an example recording of what they do. While Ambramson is the unknown one for me in this lot, the improvisational skills of both Horist and Burke are well known. This trio plays some excellent improvised music, with great attention for small details, as well as small objects and small sounds, but also more traditional percussive and guitar bits, musique concrete/electro-acoustic bits, microsound and electronics. It even leads to a spacious rock song called 'Kilter'. These three men know what they are doing and know how to make a damn varied disc of exciting improvised music with influences from other areas. An excellent disc. (FdW)


In this day and age its hard to believe that things can go wrong in the process of duplicating sound. Everything being zeroes and ones, but in the old days you would (could?) put music on a reel to reel tape and then it was copied to vinyl or tape and in that particular process things could go wrong, wrong speed, reversed etc. That happened to 'NH/HN', an early work by Maurizio Bianchi, but this CDR promises us its the one and only real 'NH/HN', as released on cassette in 1980. This is how we know Maurizio Bianchi best: totally not committed to any sort of compositional structure, an endless stream of sound, radio waves, rhythm machine, synthesizers and vinyl being manually spun forwards and backwards. Maybe you could say that these two twenty minute pieces are too long, drag on a bit too much or such things like, but I must admit I very much enjoyed this. Maybe because it reminded me of my early days spending all day with tapes like this, music that was too long and dragged on too much, but also fondly remember as a late teen favorite in music.
I know, I shouldn't lump things together, but the release by Oier I.A. is very much along similar lines, yet with differences. Firstly its one piece, that lasts forty-two minutes and is more minimal. Whereas Bianchi bounces around with his sound, Oier I.A. stays very much in one area. Magnetic fields like sounds, of motorized objects being amplified and some loops of crackling sound. It builds very slowly over the course of the entire length of this,but never gets really loud. When its over, you hardly noticed things went up in volume that much. Like Bianchi this seems to be more like a flow of sound, than a rather defined composition of some kind. On the other hand, Oier I.A.'s music seems more like made as part of an exhibition or sound installation of some kind, and Bianchi more like 'just' two pieces of music. I liked both: Bianchi for the remembrance of days past, and Oier I.A. for his sheer minimalism.  (FdW)-
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Best known as the owner of the excellent Elevator Bath label, Colin Andrew Sheffield also produced a fair amount of releases, mainly on his own label, exploring microtonal drone music. This is what he does here too, via four lengthy excursions. Its hard to say what goes into the machines (which machines? synthesizers? computers?), but no doubt, seeing this released on Mystery Sea, there is no doubt some aquatic, nautical origin to the material. But its not to be heard. The outcome is however like slow, tidal waves banging on nocturnal shores. Highly atmospheric, in various shades of grey and black, but mostly grey. In the first part its all gentle, but it seems to me that towards the fourth piece, things get a bit more louder and chillier. Maybe we hit upon an ice-berg or we sunk down into the vast, depths of the Atlantic? Here a metallic ringing appears in the sound, admits a deep wash of nautical drones. Maybe I just hear things that are not there, really. Maybe I am just interpreting the music towards the labels' aesthetic. I am not entirely sure either. But these slow pieces are indeed great. Suitable relax music for a grey winter's day. (FdW)


VIDEOTRAGE - SIGNALTURES (cassette by Obscurex)
From Finland hails Mika Ihanamaki and Sami Kettunen, who work together as Videotrage. 'Signaltures' is their second release. Not much is forthcoming about them, but my best guess is that they love the synthesizers to be old and analogue. They buzz around nicely in the three tracks on side A and the side long trip on side B. Here even an old good vocoder is used for that spacious robot effect (I am reminded, rather fondly, of old Dutch masters Ende Shneafliet, although Videotrage use less rhythmmachines). You're on the air and we're floating into space, that sort of thing. The b-side has deep rhythm to somewhere like a space ship gentle crossing the sky and those computer game sounds (maybe that lovely Korg Monotron which are now so en vogue) to simulate the cosmic war. That's the direction we find these boys in. Heavy styled cosmic music, with some gentle moments, some mean ones and throughout well thought out. Science fiction music for the 'now' moment. (FdW)


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